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Abuja

The Tragic Human Cost of Africa's New Megacities

09:30 - 24 May, 2017
The Tragic Human Cost of Africa's New Megacities, A rendering of Eko-Atlantic City, Lagos, Nigeria. Image <a href='http://www.ekoatlantic.com/media/image-gallery/'>via ekoatlantic.com</a>
A rendering of Eko-Atlantic City, Lagos, Nigeria. Image via ekoatlantic.com

This article was originally published by Common Edge as "Tale of Two Cities: Unravelling the Brutal Backstory Behind Africa’s Emerging Megacities."

In the last two decades, the African narrative has changed phenomenally. The tired, age-old storyline—largely woven around the stereotypes of poverty, disease, and bloody civil wars—has been replaced with one celebrating the continent’s unprecedented economic growth and relative political stability. This new narrative is also about Africa’s gleaming skyscrapers, massive shopping malls, and ambitious “smart” cities being designed and built from scratch: Ebene Cyber City in Mauritius; Konza Technology City in Kenya; Safari City in TanzaniaLe Cite du Fleuve in DR Congo; Eko Atlantic in NigeriaAppolonia City in Ghana, and others.

There are currently at least twenty of these new cities under construction in Africa and about twice that number in the works. These developments have permanently altered the continent’s urban outlook, and have offered it something different from the bland pastiche of colonial architecture that it was once known for. As a designer, I was initially excited by the quality of some of the architecture. Though I must admit that these new cities are eerie mimicries of similar developments in China, Singapore and even the UAE, and that they’re largely bereft of any cultural connection to Africa.

Jabi Lake Masterplan Proposal / Studio Seilern Architects

01:00 - 9 March, 2013
Jabi Lake Masterplan Proposal / Studio Seilern Architects, Courtesy of Studio Seilern Architects
Courtesy of Studio Seilern Architects

Studio Seilern Architects shared with us their recently commissioned design for a 31 hectare waterfront masterplan for Duval Properties Ltd in Abuja, Nigeria. Situated on Jabi Lake, the project aims to create a new destination for the city; a place to live, work, shop, be entertained and above all, to enjoy. With the loose arrangement of these building clusters, this results in the possibility of a flexible plan that generates multiple aspect residential units. More images and architects’ description after the break.