• Wescape: privatising the profits and socialising the risks?

    The City of Cape Town recently approved an application to move the approved urban edge to accommodate a 200,000-home residential and commercial development called “Wescape”.  The application, and the City’s approval, has generated enormous debate and numerous parties have opposed the proposal on various planning and economic-related grounds. Notwithstanding these objections, the question that needs […]

  • The future of cities?

    (Cross-posted from Future Cape Town). The Future of Cities from Nicolas Siegenthaler on Vimeo. We’re urbanising at over 1 million people a week! What does this mean for tomorrow’s cities? How will people, businesses and governments cope? Every two months, the equivalent of a New York metropolitan sprouts up due to the rate the world […]

  • Making the case for African cities

    In my previous two blog posts (“Visions of African urban futures yet to come” and “Where can we find alternative African futures?”) I have argued that we need to reinvigorate a vision of what African urban areas are, and could be. I further argued that, in order to gain inspiration for alternative African urban futures, […]

  • Accra’s Mmofra Foundation puts children at the center of public space design

    “Mmofra means children,” explains Amowi Phillips of the Mmofra Foundation, giving the backstory on the children’s park that unfolds around us. Overhead, the gray sky and the sprinkle of droplets threaten rain, but here below we’re in an expansive green space full of life and activity. She takes me around the two-acre green plot of […]

  • Where can we find alternative African urban futures?

    Available options for the future of African cities appear to be limited to a binary choice between apocalyptic disorder and an irrepressibly optimistic orderliness – between the slum and the tech park. The presentation and reproduction of such a binary choice without doubt restricts our capacity to discover avenues to imagine and create innovative, safe […]

  • Visions of African urban futures yet to come

    “African cities don’t work”, writes AbdouMaliq Simone at the beginning of his book For the City Yet to Come. ‘Or at least their characterizations are conventionally replete with descriptions ranging from the valiant, if mostly misguided, struggles of the poor to eke out some minimal livelihood to the more insidious descriptions of bodies engaged in […]

  • Considering African urban utopias

    Utopian thinking, defined by Friedman as “the capacity to imagine a future that departs significantly from what we know to be a general condition in the present” has informed a range of social and ideological movements from the Paris Commune to the Zapatistas of South-eastern Mexico (in Swilling et al, 2010; Harvey, 2012). Pieterse writes […]

  • Cape Town: World Design Capital 2014

    Cape Town has been in the news lately. In late October, the city won two accolades; first it was announced as the winner of the World Design Capital 2014 accolade and a week or two later, the landmark Table Mountain was declared the 7th Wonder of the World. Much has been made of the significance […]