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Finding Stories




2015 - 2016

AAmatters team

Antoni Folkers

Marie Morel

Berend van der Lans

Iga Perzyna


Department of Urban and Rural Planning Zanzibar

Municipality of Amsterdam

Stadsherstel Amsterdam

Relevant links

Leiden Anthropology blog article


#urban planning #intangible heritage #placemaking #culture

It seems obvious that culture and immaterial heritage are important components for regeneration plans in cities. However, it remains a challenge to find the often hidden stories representing the culture of the existing communities and to then incorporate them in planning and design.


The Municipality of Amsterdam and the Government of Zanzibar – both managing UNESCO World Heritage Sites - were working on the development of strategies for heritage-based urban regeneration in Zanzibar. This developed from a particular interest from Zanzibar in the collaboration between the private and public sector in Amsterdam when it comes to using heritage as driver for development.


Within this collaboration the focus was on the heritage based regeneration of Ng’ambo, a less known area just outside of the world famous Stone Town, but equally interesting in historic sense. Next to mapping of the tangible component, it was essential to uncover the cultural and socio-economic framework in the area. This integral approach is the key principle of the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape approach, for which Ng’ambo is an important pilot project in East Africa.


The mapping of the intangible heritage of the area – based upon intensive community involvement - was about to start after the symposium. This was the reason to organise the symposium Finding Stories as part of a workshop with colleagues from Zanzibar and Amsterdam.


The symposium included project introductions by Aart Oxenaar (Director Department Monuments and Archaeology City of Amsterdam), Muhammad Juma (Director Department for Urban and Rural Planning Zanzibar) and Antoni Folkers (African Architecture Matters), followed by key note lectures on the relation between tangible and intangible heritage (Dr. Gabri van Tussenbroek, City of Amsterdam) and the relevance of the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape Approach ( Karim Hendili, UNESCO).


Additionally, cases from Casablanca (by Abderrahim Kassou), Benin, Chad and Morocco (by Franck Houndegla) and Mozambique (by Silje Elroy Sollien) were presented, followed by a panel discussion on tools and techniques for involving intangible heritage in urban planning and the relevance of this for the urban climate.


The symposium was closed off with sessions that were specifically focused on tools and techniques for Finding Stories in Ng’ambo and the translation of Stories in Urban Planning and Design for Ng’ambo.


The outcomes of the symposium were instrumental for the research that was executed in Ng’ambo in March – May 2016 and formed a basis for the Local Area Plan that is now adopted by the Government of Zanzibar for the redevelopment of the area. 

Document available for download in the AAmatters online Library.

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