Chale Wote Street Art Festival capitalizes on streetscape as public space

“In Ghana, what attracts people to places isn’t the [physical] space, it’s the event,” a friend said to me in conversation a few weeks ago. I was reminded of his words this past weekend, standing at the triangle-shaped Otublohum Square in Jamestown. As I watched, bike stuntmen paraded up and down High Street, doing tricks … Continued

How can art bring purpose to Accra’s public spaces?

By accident, Ghana’s telecommunications companies may have actually helped catalyze public art, at least in Accra. By branding houses, walls and kiosks with their company colors, they inspired a group of artists to bring their work into public space, too. In areas like Kawukudi and Nima, major roadsides are parades of blue, green, yellow and … Continued

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 … Continued

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 … Continued

Green, lush and carefully tended: Nairobi’s famous nurseries are losing ground

As Nairobi widens roads and erects new apartment buildings, its famous nurseries, which operate on public land, are threatened. Jason Patinkin. “If I may ask,” the flower vender interrupts, “when did you last see a frog in Nairobi?” I pause. This is a question I have never been asked before. “You’ve never seen one,” he … Continued

The Langrug Wash Facility: a new common space for the community

Langrug is an effervescent informal settlement that was illegally formed in 1993; this settlement is located in the most affluent farm area called Franschhoek, outside of Stellenbosch. Beyond the lavish hills and wine lands lies Langrug providing affordable housing to seasonal farm workers who work on the vineyards surrounding Stellenbosch.  The settlement is characterised by … Continued

Thoughts on a world class African city

On 8 July 2013 the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) ruled that an advertisement of the City of Johannesburg in which it referred to itself as a “world class African city” was “misleading”. According to ASA, the city had made various misleading claims in the advertisement, namely that it was financially secure, environmentally friendly and had … Continued

Creating an Open City one street at a time

Over the weekend, we (Open Streets) joined a conference organised by Future Cape Town to explore the concept of an “Open City”. In addition to inspiring and informative presentations, the event included a brainstorming session which allowed us to collect and compile ideas for small, simple and economic actions that can help build momentum for … Continued

iPhone hustlers provide a last-mile solution for a global market

(By Sharon Benzoni/Informal City Dialogues) Chris Oppong-Agyemang’s landlady is called “Tip Toe Mama,” and for good reason. Her family owns the land where the Red Tip Toe House stands, and supposedly, it is this house that gave Tip Toe Lane its memorable name. Just a decade ago, the street was an entertainment district, I’m told. … Continued

Establishing a fair and viable renewable energy feed-in tariff in Cape Town

The City of Cape Town has recently published a two part tariff for small scale embedded generation. On this tariff customers are paid R0.52 for each unit (kWh) of energy fed into the grid, are charged R1.01 for each unit consumed, and are required to pay a daily service charge of R12.08 for the service. … Continued