The Historiography of Town Planning and Its Shifting Paradigms in Sub-Saharan Africa

The Historiography of Town Planning and Its Shifting Paradigms in Sub-Saharan Africa

Mutakela Kingsley Minyoi (University of Botswana, Botswana)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 32
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-8134-5.ch001

Abstract

This chapter traces the evolution of town planning, which developed in response to specific challenges of industrialization. However, the chapter is written from a Sub-Saharan standpoint, with emphasis on the planning situation in the context of the pre-colonial, colonial, and post-colonial periods. Although the arrival of European colonialists along the African coastline dates from 16th century, the colonial roots of modernist planning in Sub-Saharan Africa is traceable only to the 19th century. Post-independence, it has been recognized that the colonial planning systems are inadequate for effectively confronting the emergent development challenges such as rapid urbanization, informal settlements proliferation, as well as post-conflict and post-disaster situations. This chapter therefore highlights the efforts that have been made to reform urban planning processes in Sub-Saharan Africa, emphasizing the post-colonial discourse on urban and regional planning theories and practices that are responsive to prevailing circumstances within this sub-continent.
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Modernism And Early Urban Planning

The 19th century is generally acknowledged to be the foundation period of modern planning (Campbell, 2018). The century of rapid industrialization, urbanization and colonization which culminated in the First World War. However, elements of planning had existed before industrialization. Since ancient times, towns had been laid out by authority; public facilities such as piped water had been provided; and regulations to control private building had been enforced (Morris, 2013). As pointed out by Hall (1992), many cities in both the ancient and the medieval world were planned, in the sense that their existence and their location were laid down consciously by some ruler or some group of merchants. As evidenced in Moenjo-Daro, the Indus River Valley civilization of 2500BCE, which had broad thoroughfares and streets laid out in a grid pattern, and individual houses which were designed for comfort and efficiency. Similarly, Mexican cities of around 1500BCE and 700BCE (Aztec civilization) were impressive and symbolic, with expansive plazas, massive temples and elaborate gardens (Morris, 2013). Another case is the controlled plan of Ming Dynasty Peking (Chinese civilization), a planned city constructed to convey key themes of China’s culture.

Key Terms in this Chapter

New Town Movement: A sociological concept which deals with the large-scale, holistic planning of a mixed-use, self-sufficient community.

Planning Education in Africa: The training and award of qualifications of planning within recognized and established higher institutions of education, as well as capacity development of planning practitioners.

Shifting Paradigms: Working assumptions, procedures and findings routinely accepted by a group of scholars which together define a stable pattern of scientific activity.

Modernism: An era or epoch in human history recognized to be the advent of advancement and civilization, with technological discoveries and innovations.

Historiography: A historical account and narrative or discourse on the genesis, origins, and evolution of a particular branch of study.

Institutionalization of Planning: The creation and establishment of institutional framework of planning, namely through legislative, administrative, organizational set ups with defined processes, systems, and procedures.

Sub-Saharan Africa: Within the African continent the region and area which predominantly lies south of the Sahara Desert.

Town Planning: A discipline, profession and field which is preoccupied with the development of human settlements, with particular focus on the use and organization of space.

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