Past and current visions of city planning

How should a city be planned? Who should have the power to define the contours of the ‘Good City’ and the behavioural norms of the ‘Good Citizen’? Later this month, NAI researcher Andrew Byerley returns to Uganda to examine the developments in Nakawa and Naguru in Kampala, and Walukuba in Jinja. The Kampala housing estates were controversially bulldozed in July this year to make way for a ‘modern’ residential apartment complex. Andrew Byerley reflects on his coming field study.

In the context of post-WWII British colonial Africa, the colonizer dictated the contours of the formal city, often treating urban areas as laboratories for planning and social engineering. In the case of the Uganda Protectorate luminaries such as Ernst May (planner of Frankfurt am Main) and Henry Kendall (designer of the 1944 Jerusalem Master Plan) deployed Western planning models including the neighbourhood unit, the housing estate, and the garden city to forge modern industrial men from ‘tribesmen’.

The model-modern housing estates of Nakawa and Naguru in Kampala, and Walukuba in Jinja, built during the 1950s, were flagships of this planning endeavour. Sixty years later in July 2011 the Kampala estates were controversially bulldozed to make way for a ‘modern’ residential apartment complex. At about the same time residents displaced by the privatisation of the Jinja Estate were embroiled in a tense battle involving the Jinja Municipal Council and a major investor over rights to land promised to them as compensation.

These latest developments are open to multiple readings, particularly in terms of competing claims to the ‘right to the city’, and tensions between formal planning and vernacular planning.

Watch a clip broadcast by NTV Uganda on the demolition of Naguru in Kampala (YouTube).

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