Re-Urbanism in Africa: Building Master-planned, Holistically-designed Satellite Cities

Large-scale property developers have recently embarked on a far-reaching strategy designed to reshape the existing spatial configuration of many cities in Africa. If these strategies are successfully implemented, major metropolitan areas in Africa will be fundamentally restructured to more explicitly serve the interests of property-holding elites and satisfy the desires of the leisure-consuming classes. What makes these recent city-building efforts different from previous attempts is that they involve constructing entirely new cities out of whole cloth rather than rehabilitating the existing built environment. Unwilling to take up the challenge of refurbishing existing large metropolises, private real estate developers have begun to construct entirely new cities that are built entirely from scratch. In the fantasy-projection of city builders, these privatized urban spaces are “city doubles,” that is, they are the mirror opposites of existing cities in Africa. Constructing entirely new urban landscapes enables city builders to bypass the messy problems associated with the current state of urbanism in Africa: broken-down infrastructure, crowded streetscapes, lack of land-use zoning and code regulation, traffic gridlock, and street crime. Located outside existing boundaries of major metropolises, these imagined “city doubles” promise to deliver up-to-date services, high-quality infrastructure, and safe and secure environments.

Project leader(s):
  • Martin Murray (Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan)

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