Urbanization Beyond Neoliberalism
Department of Landscape Architecture
University of Pennsylvania
This studio broadly considers the proliferation of speculative new town projects around major cities throughout the African continent. These ongoing proposals—motivated by familiar neoliberal development policies and aspirations of Global City identities—threaten both the environmental and socioeconomic capacity of their destination polities. That is, these proposals for new settlement frequently configure themselves to attract external capital at the expense of local populations actually in need of formal settlement and infrastructural accommodations. Think Eko Atlantic, Konza Techno City, La Cité du Fleuve or Ciudad de la Paz (formerly Oyala) among many, many, many others.
Rather than continue to imagine alternatives to future urban settlement based upon exogenous models drawn from outside the continent—Western, Middle Eastern, Far Eastern—or focus solely on the familiar deficiencies of the contemporary African city, this studio riffs on the methods of design speculation elaborated by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby that endeavor to imagine alternate urban futures disconnected from present-day ideals of urban form, economy and society. Utilizing the broad lens of climate change, this studio asks students to develop design fictions around the occupation of urban public space circa 2050 in one of nine mega-cities on the African continent.
The intent is that these fictions use the occupation of future public space as a way of describing differing forms of urban being, economy and society that find their orientation outside of our present neoliberal reality. The projects are neither proposals nor fantasies. Rather, they should be understood as intentionally provocative visual stories offering novel views of future urban life.