Paper presented at the XXXIII IAHS World Congress on Housing, 27-30 September 2005,"Transforming Housing Environments through Design", University of Pretoria.
The following communication is an approach to the issues comprehending basic habitability in African sub-Saharan cities, perceived in the experiences of urban planning, which may point out the prospective path of these developing territories. The subsequent synopsis – focused on the urban African experiences, from the post independence period up to today – consists in a brief reflection on the process which has led to the current context of survival and rupture, which defines the habitational compound of sub-Saharan Africa. Thusly, we will try to comment on the possible routes which may lead to a sustainable – and more effective – operational pattern, concerning the urban solutions apprehended as corner stones for a basic and more adequate habitability for this part of the African continent. Considering that the majority of the population who lives in peripheral neighbourhoods, lacking the basic infra-structures and urban services, organizes itself in spontaneous occupations, we can conclude that one of the contemporaneous African urban spaces’ characteristics is, in fact, its rapid mutability that reports to an imprecise and gradually informal dynamism. If we regard the «shelter» factor as one of the main functions of the complex system formed by any urban African agglomerate, we will soon acknowledge the quite long list of problems caused by the disabilities concerning the housing in sub-Saharan Africa. If the current cultural paradigm does not evolve in a steadfast beat, and if we take under consideration the African regional urban developing, there is an obvious risk of increasing the territorial, social and cultural fragmentation, which will then cause an image of anachronism, asymmetry and lack of structure of the African landscape. More than merely a debate about the civilization archetype, these issues are about reflecting on experiences of urban planning that lead to the pondering on the possible responses to be given to the current issue, against the ill use of investment means and the wasting of synergies that the occupation models of the suburban frontiers imply nowadays, by the melting of the different communities.
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