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  • Finding Stories :: the role of immaterial culture in city planning

    On 30 January 2016, AAmatters together with its partners City of Amsterdam, Government of Zanzibar and Stadsherstel Amsterdam, organises the symposium ‘Finding Stories :: the role of immaterial culture in city planning’ (photo AforA architects) 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 - are 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. This already led to the establishment of Hifadhi Zanzibar, a company following the model of Stadsherstel Amsterdam NV. Now the focus is 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 is 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 - is about to start. This is the reason to organise the symposium Finding Stories as part of a workshop with colleagues from Zanzibar and Amsterdam. This symposium is partly open for public. The public programme (between 9-13:00 hrs) includes among others: 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) Key note lectures on the relation between the planned and the lived city and the relevance of the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape Approach (speakers to be confirmed) Cases from Casablanca (by Abderrahim Kassou), Benin, Chad and Morocco (by Franck Houndegla) and Mozambique (by Silje Elroy Sollien) A panel discussion on tools and techniques for involving intangible heritage in urban planning and the relevance of this for the urban climate. The afternoon sessions are closed and specifically focused on the Zanzibar case: Tools and techniques for Finding Stories in Ng’ambo Translating Stories in Urban Planning and Design for Ng’ambo The results will be presented and discussed in a public conclusive session between 16-17:00 hrs. If you are interested to join the public programme, please register by sending an e-mail to You will receive payment instructions for the participation fee: Regular: € 20,00 per person Reduction fee for students: € 10,00 per person (please provide copy of student card) Please register before 27 January 2016. A more detailed programme will be distributed later. The symposium is organised by AAmatters, also involved in the collaboration between Amsterdam and Zanzibar. This symposium is financed through funding from RVO, Stimuleringsfonds and Dutch Culture. You can download a printable document with above information here. #Zanzibar #Unesco #Amsterdam #Culture #Urbanplanning #heritage

  • Affordable housing in urban regeneration in Ng’ambo closer by

    For Zanzibar Social Security Fund and with the Department of Urban and Rural Planning and in collaboration with the City of Amsterdam, AAmatters conducted a research on Housing Strategies for Historic Urban Landscapes. The report was issued few months ago. Today we presented the outcomes and in particular the Ng’ambo Housing Action Plan, that via a pilot project should lead to an approach that can be upscaled and that will facilitate the required sustainable development of Zanzibar. It aims at densification to save the scarce undeveloped land around the urban areas and addresses the expected growth of the Zanzibar population. It also aims at giving the current population a place in the new development. This safeguards that the intangible heritage and cultural fabric of the area is not destroyed through the renewal. During today’s workshop we discussed with ZSSF, the Department of Urban and Rural Planning, the Worldbank, Zanzibar Housing Corporation, the Planning Commission, the PPP unit of the government, Quality Building Contractors, Aalto University from Finland and the Pan African Housing Fund from Nairobi how the Ng’ambo Housing Action Plan can be started. Again we came a step closer to putting the Plan in action. The initiating parties were identified, a detailed plan and budget will be prepared and finance will be sourced. Khamis Ali from QBC and Okomboli Ong’ong’a from Pan African Housing Fund discussing in detail how collaboration may look like with Khalifa Hilal and the Managing Director of ZSSF, Mr. Abdulwakil Haji Hafidh. #Zanzibar #affordablehousing #HistoricUrbanLandscape

  • A short break at Beit al AAmatters

    For weeks already, a dedicated team of staff members of the Department of Urban and Rural Planning and AAmatters team members is deeply involved in mapping thousands of buildings between Darajani and Kariakoo in Ng’ambo, the Other Side of Stone Town in Zanzibar. Some shifts in the team provided a reason to take a short break and get together with the team and some other partners in the temporal Beit al AAmatters (AAmatters palace). Get to our Facebook page for some more glimpses. Tomorrow we pick up the thread again in the myriads of streets of Ng’ambo. #IntangibleHeritage #HistoricUrbanLandscape #Research #Zanzibar

  • Five Years AAmatters - this is what our partners say:

    After five years of hard work, we looked back over our shoulders and realised it was time for a newsletter to give you all an update on where we are. We asked our partners for a few words about us, but this is what they said: N'Goné Fall - Curator, art critic and policy advisor, trained as an architect (Senegal / France): ‘My first contact with AAmatters was for their Blueprints of Paradise project. It was a challenging and inspiring architecture contest ‎looking at how to better live in African cities. They invited young African architects, designers and artists to rethink and envision the concept of African cities from a creative, innovative and economic point of view. The second project I saw was their collaboration with the architecture college in Dakar, Senegal. Students were asked to propose architectural and design solutions to transform the railway central station in Amsterdam into a more friendly human contact oriented place. Whether it is urban and architecture projects or series of conferences and symposiums, AAmatters ‎ has proven to be a critical and cutting-edge organization that truly impacts theory, discourse and practice of architecture and design, thus advancing the concept of creative cities and urban cultures.’ Ola Uduku - Reader in Tropical Architecture and Environmental Design, Director of Research of the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (Scotland / Nigeria): ‘AA Matters is a hard working team of individuals whose output is certainly greater than the sum of their parts! They have had decades of experience in working, experiencing and in being involved in projects across Africa, particularly in East Africa, with a conservation and development focus. AA matters keenly recognises the need to both educate and inform a wider African, but increasingly global public about African contemporary architecture and also its history. The team has achieved this objective through a series of events, including conferences, workshops and projects which have made a significant contribution to our engagement with today’s architectural and urban landscape in Africa. Most importantly they have been successful in publishing AAmatters, a digital resource that has become an essential read for all interested in the broad spectrum that is African Architecture.’ Nicola Colangelo - Entrepreneur and shareholder of Hifadhi Zanzibar (Tanzania): ‘in the event of your 5th birthday I would like to congratulate you for your initiative; there is no doubt in my mind that the only way to progress in Africa is to be fully immersed and knowledgeable about its Culture, Traditions and Technologies developed over the centuries. I also congratulate you for the determination to push on despite strong deviant attitudes visible everywhere in the continent. And above all for leading, stimulating and help to organize local communities, like Hifadhi in Zanzibar, to protect and preserve their environment and their heritage. I am particularly happy with AAmatters intention to demonstrate that doing good work can also be economically interesting! I look forward to a bright future for AAmatters and hope to continue participating to some initiatives in the future.’ Lesley Lokko - Novelist, architect and associate professor at the University of Johannesburg (South Africa / Ghana): ‘My first conversation with Berend van der Lans and Dr Antoni Folkers about Zanzibar took place in Nijmegen, the Netherlands (of all places), almost five years ago: impossible at the time to know quite where it would lead. Well, here’s where it led. In March of this year, I travelled with 18 Master’s level students, keen and inquisitive, from the University of Johannesburg to Zanzibar, the first ‘stop’ in a series of three locations around the African continent which present particular contexts for architects: challenging, complex, yes, but also highly creative. It was a first time to Zanzibar for many of the students and we had the great good fortune to meet not only Antoni and Berend, who were in Zanzibar together at the same time, but also Dr Muhammad Juma, Director of the Department of Urban and Regional Planning. Whilst the tradition of a field trip to an unknown location or destination has a long history in architectural education, our visit to Zanzibar was unusual in that it combined the ‘shock of the new’ (a long-established creative catalyst) with the sort of in-depth analysis and understanding that only organisations like AAmatters can have. Their generosity in opening their books – literally, from maps to data to analysis to contacts – to us, and their willingness to share their considerable intellect and experience was key in allowing students to understand that it is possible to intervene in complex situations with empathy, creativity and wit. Our trip and the year-long thesis projects it generated are testament to why AAmatters matters. Their tenacity, dedication and interest in African architecture, in all its complexity and at all scales, is unparalleled. So, too, is their generosity, for which 18 students and three tutors are deeply, deeply grateful. Asante sana.’ Abderrahim Kassou – Architect & activist, Casablanca (Morocco): ‘My first meeting with AAM team was several years ago, under the previous form of Archiafrika. This happened in Casablanca during a visit of several architects. I had to guide a tour through several neighbourhoods of Casablanca. Since then, we shared several initiatives, projects, thoughts, dreams, in architecture, culture, heritage, history, future, about the Netherlands, about Casablanca, about Africa, with the same passion, the same faith and the same madness. That first meeting back to five years ago was indeed “the beginning of a beautiful friendship”.’ Joe Osae – Addo, Architect, CEO of ConstructsLLC and chairman of ArchiAfrika (Ghana): ‘How did ‘a poor chap’ from Akropong Ghana get involved in the AAmatters web? That is a long story, but all I can say is that these folks are dedicated, concerned and contribute to the discourse on African architecture (whatever that means). Now that I am in, I support them in 'spinning yarns' as KWAKU ANANSE does, without the trickery. AAM, is the real deal, and they have the results to prove it.’ Sabine Gimbrère, Director of the International Office, City of Amsterdam (Netherlands): ‘What is true in life is also true for international cooperation: one gets nowhere without the right friends and partners. AAmatters has proven to be that indispensable and reliable partner for many in The Netherlands. Working in and with Africa, bridging gaps and overcoming hurdles with stamina and passion, thereby opening up Africa to the rest of the world.’ Paul Morel – Project coordinator and International Affairs Stadsherstel Amsterdam (Netherlands): ‘These guys are terrible! In 2011 I met Berend van der Lans after Stadsherstel Amsterdam organised the international conference Heritage Inc. about private initiatives in the preservation of built heritage. Stadsherstel Amsterdam (Company for City restoration) is a limited liability company, active in the restoration of monumental buildings in and around Amsterdam. Berend did not participate in the conference, since he found the participation fee too high! He then couldn’t ask me for a free entry, since we did not know each other yet. I met him few months later during the visit of the Zanzibar delegation which came back to Amsterdam to know more about the functioning of Stadsherstel after being introduced to it during Heritage Inc.. Berend seemed to be a nice guy, who knew quite a lot about Africa and especially Tanzania and Zanzibar. Muhammad Juma, Director of the Department of Urban and Rural Planning of the Government of Zanzibar, asked us to work together on the establishment of a company based on the Stadsherstel principles in Stonetown Zanzibar. Stadsherstel Amsterdam confirmed their interest and started working with Berend and of course Antoni Folkers entered the scene as well. Also a nice one, but together these guys are terrible. It results in return trips to East Africa in a maximum of 4 days, they email you day and night, and when you answer they respond immediately. 'No time to rest, we are in a hurry, we must redevelop heritage and improve the conditions for the inhabitants’. Meanwhile they are mapping somewhere else and maintaining their network all over the world. Well, beside my daily work on Stadsherstel, this was quite an additional job. And still is, because we match very well together. Stadsherstel (Hifadhi) Zanzibar is established - we couldn’t imagine that in 2011 - and still going strong. That’s why I also love these guys. I wish them a lot of success in the next 5 years, and hope we will work together for a long time!’ Immanuel Sirron-Kakpor - architect and planner (Ghana / Netherlands): ‘On behalf of the entire team of Sirron-Kakpor Architects, we extend our congratulations to AAmatters for completing 5 glorious years of success. You have always been on the top of all for serving Africa and Europe with your unselfish services. AAmatters has been very instrumental in the development of my personal architecture career. Even before AAmatters was establishment five years ago, I had access to its fully equipped library with books on the African Modern Architecture movement, Vernacular African architecture and more. But above all, I am grateful for your assistance to other students and myself during my studies to become a better architect and give me the right background for the African condition. In short AAmatters has been a formidable foundation and stepping-stone for me in the field of Architecture and Urban Design in Africa. Congratulations from all of us for your wonderful journey of 5 years of success and we hope for the same for the future also. We hope AAmatters reaches to new heights in the coming years.’

  • From Z to A to Z to A and back

    Yesterday we concluded an exciting series of events including a successful workshop that kicked off the A2Z2A project. This project involves an intensive collaboration of the Zanzibar Department of Urban and Rural Planning and the City of Amsterdam, focusing on the development of policies and tools in urban heritage management. Zanzibari and Amsterdam experts during the design studio The Government of Zanzibar has recently developed National Spatial Planning Strategies and is in the process of implementing them. One of the key focuses is to develop specific policy and instruments for urban planning and maintenance based on heritage, since Zanzibar has a rich history that is still clearly demonstrated in tangible and intangible forms. Most significant and world famous is Stone Town, recognised by UNESCO as World Heritage Site. Just like Zanzibar, the City of Amsterdam shares the responsibility over a World Heritage Site (the Seventeenth Century Canal Ring). In Amsterdam, a balanced alliance of public and private parties plays an important role in maintaining the historic character of the city while there is space for development. It is a good example of the Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach, developed by UNESCO for the regeneration of historic urban areas. The Government of Zanzibar has adopted the HUL approach and aims to implement this. Few years ago, Zanzibar and Amsterdam started explorations on collaboration with the aim to assist in the development of policies and instruments for heritage based urban regeneration in Zanzibar. This now lead to the A2Z project. Through action - the implementation of 2 projects with concrete results and including the public and private sector - these policies and instruments will be further shaped. Meanwhile the City of Amsterdam is also learning from this: planning of dynamic transformation processes is relatively unusual in the contemporary Dutch environment and so is the input of intangible heritage in urban planning. Hifadhi Zanzibar is a private company of which its shares are in the hands of the private sector. It is modeled after Stadsherstel Amsterdam and in the first year of its existence it will be supported by its Amsterdam equivalent and AAmatters through the A2Z project. The first projects will be started and the team will be built up and trained. Ng'ambo Tuitakayo - ‘the Ng'ambo we want’ - involves resident communities and all relevant stakeholders in the area just outside of Stone Town in the development of the Local Area Plan and the Policy Planning Guidelines for historical urban areas. It is the aim to initiate concrete designs of public spaces in the area that serve as pilots for larger scale interventions at later date. The weekend was not only used to kick off the project and reach the first results, but also to find synergies with initiatives that relate to the project. Worldbank, Turku University, BSLA, Pan African Housing Fund and other local and international organisations confirmed their commitment on collaboration on open spaces, infrastructure, housing, finance, GIS mapping and community involvement. The teams have started and work towards the next workshop in a couple of months, again bringing together the experts from Zanzibar and Amsterdam. AAmatters coordinates the projects and is keen to inform you regularly on the activities in the coming year. Debates during the shareholders meeting of Hifadhi #heritage #future #Zanzibar #Amsterdam

  • After Amsterdam, Paramaribo, Zanzibar now Dar?

    During the coming weekend, the Dar Heritage Days will be organised in the largest city of Tanzania, Dar es Salaam. It is also ranked the fasted growing city on the African continent. Without policies or activism Dar’s precious heritage is doomed. This is what DARCH, the Dar Centre for Architectural Heritage, is putting on the agenda. DARCH organises a public forum on Friday 25th September to discuss the role of heritage in the city and the meaning it has for the future. Not so far from Dar, to be precisely in Zanzibar, the private sector has understood the role of heritage and has started Hifadhi Zanzibar, modeled after Stadsherstel Amsterdam. Hifadhi is recently registered and is now preparing its first acquisitions, assisted by Stadsherstel and AAmatters. Hifadhi’s office manager Maryam Mansab will present the lessons learned in Zanzibar and Amsterdam during the public forum, organised in the auditorium at the National Museum. Entrance free so please join and see for yourself if Dar would be able to follow! Check DARCH facebookpage for details. #Urban #heritage

  • AAmatters at the World Heritage Committee session of 2015

    On behalf of AAmatters, Nicole Bolomey as an observer attended the World Heritage Committee session, which this years took place in Bonn, Germany, from 28 June – 8 July. The session was an excellent opportunity to increase our knowledge and interaction with the 1972 World Heritage Convention, which is relevant in many of our activities in Africa, not least in Zanzibar. Nicole was present in Bonn for a week to attend sessions on the state of conservation of World Heritage properties, including Stone Town of Zanzibar, policy debates on heritage & sustainable development, events on Historic Urban Landscapes, an event by the African World Heritage Fund, and other interesting occasions. Antoni Folkers joined her for a day to jointly give technical support to the delegation of Zanzibar in preparing for the challenging debate in the plenary session on Tuesday 30 June. We also used our presence to meet various people relevant to our endeavour in Africa, be it from the Netherland delegation, the Zanzibari delegation, the World Heritage Centre or other relevant institutions. Nicole reports on a few highlights from the week: World Heritage in Africa 1. Stone Town of Zanzibar was discussed by the Committee, aside other challenges, due to issues pertaining to the serious conservation condition of the property, lack of effective management procedures and governance (see below reference to all documents). Although it was proposed to put Zanzibar on the List of World Heritage in Danger, a strong Zanzibari delegation successfully lobbied against this proposal, and expressed its commitment to work hard on improving matter before the Committee will meet again in one years time. The final decision of the World Heritage Committee thus recommends to the State Party of Tanzania, in close consultation with the World Heritage Centre and the Advisory Bodies (ICOMOS and ICCROM), to develop a set of corrective measures and a timeframe for their implementation. It further invites the international community to provide assistance to strengthen management and conservation of the property and required capacities. Public space in Stone Town of Zanzibar The engagement of AAmatters since 2012, together with its partners City of Amsterdam, Stadsherstel, Swiss Landscape Architecture Association, and others, to foster heritage-based urban regeneration through technical assistance for planning policies, housing policies, public open spaces, and the development of Hifadhi Zanzibar (the local equivalent to Stadsherstel), will continue in this spirit, and we are looking towards our partners to equally commit and continue their vital support at this crucial moment in Zanzibar’s urban development. New donors may also be approached, as this is a real window of opportunity. 2. The African World Heritage Fund (AWHF), a UNESCO Category II Centre based in Pretoria, South Africa, held an event on 1 July regarding their programme on Entrepreneurship at World Heritage Properties in Africa. The event, attended by app. 200 delegates, was most encouraging highlighting how local communities can benefit from World Heritage sites through economic capacity building and networking. Presentations focused on the recent case study of Lwande Mixed Farm Project at Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site (Zambia). An award was given to His Royal Highness Chief Mukuni for his numerous actions in support to long-term conservation through entrepreneurial ventures at the Zambian component of Mosi-oa-Tunya/Victoria Falls World Heritage Site. 3. Nominations: South Africa’s submission of an extension of their property Cape Floral Region Protected Areas was approved, however, no new African sites were listed as World Heritage. The three African sites, which were discussed in Bonn (Sanganeb Marine National Park and Dungonab Bay - Mukkawar Island Marine National Park in Sudan; Thimlich Ohinga Cultural Landscape in Kenya; and Nyero and other hunter-gatherer geometric rock art sites in eastern Uganda), were all referred. This means that supplementary information needs to be provided for these sites to be reconsidered for listing in the Committee session of 2016. Other aspects pertaining to World Heritage nominations: Djibouti and South Africa submitted a revised Tentative List, and three existing African properties put forward their retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value, the document, which is at the basis of the protection, conservation and management of any World Heritage property. These were Mozambique: Island of Mozambique; Senegal: Djoudj National Bird Sanctuary; United Republic of Tanzania: Stone Town of Zanzibar. Urban issues and the World Heritage Convention 4. The current revision of the Operational Guidelines, which is due every four years, included work on urban heritage and conservation, in particular with reference to the integration of the Historic Urban Landscape Recommendation (2011) of UNESCO. Although it was decided that further work would be needed on this complex subject, namely to produce a guidance document on urban heritage for States Parties, some amendments to the Operational Guidelines were introduced in order not to delay the mainstreaming of the social, cultural, economic and environmental parameters in the conservation or urban World Heritage. Amendments that may be relevant to our work in Africa, pertain to the inclusion of participatory planning and stakeholder consultation processes (111a); the development of mechanisms for the involvement and coordination of the various activities between different partners and stakeholders (111d); and the notion that an effective and integrated approach to management and planning goes beyond the property to include any buffer zone(s), and the broader setting, as it may relate to the property’s topography, natural and built environment, and other elements such as infrastructure, land use patterns, spatial organization, and visual relationships. It may also include related social and cultural practices, economic processes and other intangible dimensions of heritage such as perceptions and associations. Management of the broader setting will be related to its role in supporting the Outstanding Universal Value (112). The Historic Urban Landscape of Ng’ambo in Zanzibar (photo Steven Zijlstra) 5. The Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) recommendation of 2011 was the subject of a side event on Friday 3 July. The focus of the session was the remembrance of Ron van Oers, who was so instrumental in initiating, developing, and promoting HUL, and who died far too young and unexpectedly in May 2015 while on mission in Tibet. Ron was instrumental in linking East African historic cities like Lamu, Ilha de Mocembique, and Zanzibar to the development of HUL and promoting them as case studies. As the event brought together a great number of urban actors working on HUL, the event did also include an outlook: The GO-HUL initiative. This ‘Global Observatory on the Historic Urban Landscape’ is an effort to unite and foster the cooperation between urban actors and communities worldwide to share resources, activities and outcomes. AAmatters will be part of this observatory through its work with the Zanzibar Department of Urban and Rural Planning. 4. The United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) have been developed by the UN to follow the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), which will end in 2015. Urban actors, as well as the culture and heritage lobby, have advocated over the past two years for the inclusion of crucial aspects of their field. The result was presented at a side event on 2 July in Bonn. A link was created to the upcoming HABITAT III conference of 2016, a forum only taking place every 20 years. What matters to our work in Africa: One out of 17 SDG’s solely focuses on urban issues. It is SDG 11 and reads: Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. While there is no SDG directly targeting culture or heritage, there are a number of SDGs, and related targets, that make reference to the same and are thus relevant to our work in Africa. These include: o 11.1 promotes access for all to adequate, safe and affordable housing and basic services, and upgrade slums o 11.4 asks to strengthen efforts to protect and safeguard the world’s cultural and natural heritage; o 4.7 promotes sustainable development through the appreciation of cultural diversity and of culture’s contribution to sustainable development; o 8.9 asks to devise and implement policies to promote sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products; o 12.b requests to develop and implement tools to monitor sustainable development impacts for sustainable tourism which creates jobs, promotes local culture and products What currently is going on: On one hand, the SDG framework is further refined in order to become operational. Indicators are being discussed for the SDGs and their targets, which will help to measure the impact of activities within each goal. On the other hand, HABITAT III is being prepared – focusing on SDG 11. Keeping in mind 11.4 mentioned above, this gives a window for heritage-based urban regeneration to take front stage. UNESCO is therefore preparing a report on the role of urban heritage in development, and will hold several events to prepare for the Quito in end 2016. AAmatters will keep abreast with development, and support Zanzibar in its participation in these events. References All documents from the World Heritage Committee Session are to be found here. The Zanzibar draft decision by the WH Committee can be found at WHC-/39.COM/7BAdd page 64. The final, modified decisions will be online shortly as the World Heritage Centre prepares its final report. The Retrospective Statement of Outstanding Universal Value: WHC-/39.COM/8E.Rev. The Draft of revised Operational Guidelines: whc15-39com-11-Annex1-opguide15-en.pdf The decisions of the meeting can be found here. There is a Historic Urban Landscape community on Facebook. African World Heritage Fund Sustainable Development Goals #heritagemanagement #heritage #Unesco #HistoricUrbanLandscape

  • Future of Places of Ng’ambo in Stockholm

    The Future of Places conference, which starts on 29 June, is the third and last in a series of conferences aiming at a high rank for public space and the impact it can have on the New Urban Agenda. This agenda will be discussed at the Habitat III conference in Quito in October 2016. This Third United Nations Conference on Housing and Sustainable Development is following the Istanbul conference in 1996 in the bi-decennial cycle and emphasizes the global commitment for sustainable urbanization. The conference in Stockholm is organized by UNhabitat together with Ax:son Johnson foundation and Project for Public Spaces and brings together researchers, global, regional and national policy makers, public and private sector representatives and NGO’s that play an important role in the positioning of public space as driver for development. The common goal is to shape the intermediate conclusions of previous gatherings and research into recommendations to Habitat III. AAmatters is invited to take part and on behalf of the Government of Zanzibar present the case of Ng'ambo Tuitakayo, ‘the Ng'ambo We Want’. In the plans for the heritage based regeneration of this historic and highly interesting area just outside of Stone Town, public and open spaces play an important role. Ng'ambo Tuitakayo is developed as a participatory project based upon the Unesco Historic Urban Landscape approach by the Department of Urban and Rural Planning of the Government of Zanzibar, Unesco, the City of Amsterdam and AAmatters. The partners are about to start a next phase of the project, which can be seen as a forerunner of the New Urban Agenda that is supposed to be discussed at Habitat III in Quito next year. We look forward to interesting discussions in Stockholm! #Urbanplanning #Zanzibar #Unesco #HistoricUrbanLandscape

  • Colourful umbrellas, flowery dresses and Swahili vibes: the Ng’ambo we want!

    Ng’ambo: Tuitakayo! - The Ng’ambo we want! - was shaped as ambitious and innovative project back in 2012 by the Department of Urban and Rural Planning in collaboration with UNESCO, the City of Amsterdam and AAmatters, with the aim to find support through an European Development Fund call. The proposal was turned down in 2013, but even before the proposed project period is over, the results were met anyway; the development of an innovative draft Local Area Plan based on the intrinsic values of Ng’ambo following the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape approach. On Saturday 4 June this was presented to the residents of Ng’ambo, combined with performances of some of the gems that one can find in Ng’ambo: Wanandege, the dance group that originally was scoffing the colonials with their umbrellas, and Tausi Taarab, a taarab group in the tradition of the famed Siti Binti Saad and Bi Kidude. Contemporary cultural Ng’ambo was represented by Swahili Vibes, while tour guides in training from Kawa Training Centre were uncovering the rich history of the area for many of its own residents. The Zanzibar International Film Festival that kicks off a little bit more than a month from now, closed of the festivities with a film show that will be repeated in Ng’ambo during their festival. In the coming month the final draft of the Local Area Plan will be completed and presented to the Government of Zanzibar. We are proud on what has been achieved with our colleagues from the Department of Urban and Rural Planning of Zanzibar, our fantastic, energetic and dedicated team that was built up over the past few years and the great support from the City of Amsterdam and Stadsherstel Amsterdam. We are grateful to the support we received along the way, from the Revolutionary Government of Zanzibar, from the Zanzibar Social Security Fund, the UNESCO Netherlands Fund in Trust and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency. Next steps are in the making! We are pleased so share some of the images of the event, for those who had to miss it. #Zanzibar #Urbanplanning #HistoricUrbanLandscape #Unesco #Placemaking #Event

  • Private sector involvement in heritage protection, also in Accra?

    The hall of the Children’s Library (photo BvdL) From 25-27 February this year, the Children’s Library in the centre of Accra formed the nucleus of ‘Accra Revisited’, an event with presentations, debates and workshops that brought together a group of visionary thinkers in architecture and urban space from West Africa. Also present were students from the Berlage Institute from Delft and a group of Dutch consultants and architects in an attempt to identify common grounds and fields of operation. For the Berlage students, the event was an insightful introduction for their commencing studio work, aiming at developing proposals for three nodes in Accra’s urban fabric. The urban challenges were not only debated by architects and urban planners. Also finance, mobility, education, design, marketing, the social and other sectors were represented, offering multiple dimensions and perspectives on Accra and the way it is developing. Rap, dance and architecture in the Old Kingsway Building (photo BvdL) The Children’s Library was a manifestation in itself; ArchiAfrika, the local organiser of the event, made a huge efford through local support in funding and in kind to restore some of the glory of this 1956 monument that is threatened by demolition. ArchiAfrika showed what it stands for by not only bringing back life into the library, but also bringing the key note lecture of upcoming star architect Kunle Adeyemi to a public stage in the derelict Old Kingsway Building in James Town, sided by two of Ghana’s most successful rappers of today. This event was literally ground shaking and was attended by many, all impressed by Adeyemi’s approach and stamina in introducing new ways to architecture and city development in Nigeria and elsewhere. Workshop sessions focused on specific issues and challenges of a variety of scales in Accra. African Architecture Matters was present as well, to workshop the role that heritage can play in the city and to project the private investment model that has been successful in Amsterdam for over 60 years and in recent years has been effectively adapted in Paramaribo and Zanzibar on the case of Accra. Results of Stadsherstel Amsterdam and Paramaribo (photos Stadsherstel) Heritage constitutes an important source of identity and cohesion for communities. Losses caused to heritage can deprive a community of its memory, the physical testimony to its past, but also of a precious resource for social and economic development. Heritage tourism is a main source of income for many historic cities. In Accra, parts of the city can also be identified as highly valuable heritage. This is not limited to sites listed by UNESCO, it is even likely that areas like James and Usher Town are of more importance for identity and cohesion for the communities and have great potential for economic development. ArchiAfrika showed this by organising Adeyemi’s lecture in the Old Kingsway Building. It seems obvious that care of heritage is in the hands of the governments. However, capacities may be insufficient and governments may lack the visionary approach towards opportunities that is characteristic for the private sector. Successful examples of private contribution to heritage protection are scarse. Stadsherstel Amsterdam N.V. is such an example that started as a private initiative in 1956, developed later into a public private partnership with the local government and contributed largely to the development of the historic city centre into an important economic driver for Amsterdam. Interest from overseas triggered the company to assist in similar initiatives elsewhere in the world. Stadsherstel Paramaribo has restored and is renting out a growing number of historic buildings since 2009. On Zanzibar some of the larger investors joined hands and are about to start with Hifadhi Zanzibar (Preserve Zanzibar ) on the East African island, famous for its World Heritage Site that is in needy shape. Key in the three cases is, that the shareholders, mostly representatives of the local private sector, retain only a modest dividend, while the remainder of the profit is reinvested in extending the portfolio of the company. Property is never sold, but rented out on a profitable basis and well maintained. The visionary shareholders aim at maximising the investment in heritage based development of the city. Their benefit is long term; a more healthy urban environment also will be a better business environment. A recent shareholders meeting of Hifadhi Zanzibar (photo BvdL) Is this a model that could work in Accra as well? Berend van der Lans, closely involved in the establishment of Hifadhi Zanzibar, presented what has been reached so far in Amsterdam, Surinam and Zanzibar, followed by a discussion on the fertility for such an initiative in Accra on the basis of concrete examples. The most important conclusions of the discussions were: 1 The model needs a small group of visionary investors, who are keen to take this up as a challenge. It was believed that in Accra such a group could be formed; 2 An extensively discussed issue was the land ownership situation, especially in James Town, the example that was taken as a potential pilot site. Many plots are in family ownership and traces of family history go back centuries. This on the one hand underpins the great heritage value of the property, on the other hand it may result in extensive negotiations with a large number of family members who all have or claim a say in an eventual transfer. 3 Also, it was mentioned that the value of the plots in Accra and/or James Town is overrated. Expectations of owners may be far too high. This is a potential problem. 4 Nevertheless, examples from for instance Johannesburg show that the potential of investment in built heritage can be very profitable. It means a critical look at sites and buildings in the larger region of Accra. Feasibility studies for buildings in James Town but also in other areas that historically are valuable need to be set up, to test the profitability. Similar studies have been set up in Paramaribo and Zanzibar, prior to the establishment of the respective companies. 5 There was a concern that projects undertaken by such a company would mean that original inhabitants would be evicted and replaced by wealthier inhabitants, so called gentrification. This is partly a fair point, but the example companies from Amsterdam, Surinam and Zanzibar have high standards in that sense and either give existing inhabitants the possibility to come back at decent costs, or offer alternative housing. Also, the companies contribute to job creation and by improving the urban environment; the chances for work and development are improving as well. James Town with Sea View Hotel in the front (photo ArchiAfrika and co-organiser Dasuda both issued reports on the event recently, each reflecting on the eventful February days with their own eyes. The ArchiAfrika Magazine showcases the great input that among others Lesley Lokko, Theo Lawson, Kunle Adeyemi, Isa Diabaté, Jean-Charles Tall and Mpho Matsipa had. The Dasuda publication focuses mainly on their fields of expertise. With the above, a more or less complete picture of the event emerges. Although it would have been better just to be there … #heritage

  • Ng’ambo Housing Action Plan brings heritage based urban regeneration closer

    From 9-11 April, The Government of Zanzibar, the Zanzibar Social Security Fund and African Architecture Matters organised a dynamic and successful workshop in Reclaim Women Space in Stone Town. This resulted in the Ng’ambo Housing Action Plan, which was presented to the community of Kisimamajongoo and Kisiwandui on Saturday 11 April. The workshop focussed on affordable and accessible housing in the densifying neigbourhood of Ng’ambo while respecting its tangible and intangible heritage. The residents of Ng’ambo, of which a majority of low-income groups, are the bearers and beholders of the intangible heritage of the area. Consequently affordable housing is essential to maintain intangible heritage in Ng’ambo. According to the newly adopted Master Plan, Ng’ambo will become the centre of Zanzibar Metropolis. Densification of Zanzibar Town is identified as strategy against further urban sprawl in the recently produced planning documents. Moreover, it gains opportunities to invest in infrastructure and public space within the area. The workshop brought together local and international expertise, with presentations by Shelter Afrique, the World Bank, the City of Amsterdam, Stadsherstel Amsterdam, a private developer from Finland and Zanzibari knowledge on the city. Three housing development strategies that may be followed were discussed: via (1) a housing corporation, (2) a housing association or (3) a private developer. The workshop advised the creation of the Ng’ambo Housing Action Team. This core group will consist of residents and stakeholders from the private and public sectors. Their focus will be to quickly initiate a pilot housing development project, which can be up-scaled for regeneration of historic urban areas elsewhere in Zanzibar later. The Action Team will contribute to Zanzibar’s goal to create a liveable, vibrant and inclusive city aiming at becoming the most sustainable city of Africa in 2030. The report elaborates on the discussions and conclusions of the workshop and includes the results of further research into finance methods and processes to be followed. The report presents final conclusions and recommendations and will soon be handed over to Zanzibar Social Security Fund, who was the core funder of the project. The research and workshop forms part of Ng’ambo Tuitakayo, ‘the Ng’ambo we want’, a series of steps that together aim to achieve an inclusive and sustainable, heritage-based urban regeneration for Ng’ambo. The Government of Zanzibar has adopted the UNESCO Historic Urban Landscape (HUL) approach for heritage based urban regeneration and Ng’ambo is forming a pilot project for the implementation of this. In the coming years, projects like the pilot housing project will be realised and create feedback to policies that are developed for up scaling in other historic urban areas. #Zanzibar #affordablehousing #Unesco #HistoricUrbanLandscape

  • Accra Revisited

    ‘Nkomo/ gbaa sane’ Urban Design Conference on Accra: Accra Revisited 25th to 27th February 2015 Children’s Library Accra, Ghana In March 2013, at the Adventurers in the Diaspora event Preserving Accra’s Architectural Heritage, ArchiAfrikaChairman Joe Osae-Addo drew attention to the historic Children’s Library, a modernist gem in Accra, speaking of the need to return this remarkable building built in 1966 to its full grandeur. Today, ArchiAfrika has fulfilled its promise to the city. The Children’s Library is undergoing a magnificent transformation, with plumbing, painting and glazing being renovated through the sponsorship of Coral Paints Ghana, Micheletti & Co. Ltd, A&C Development . This great step towards complete restoration is in preparation for the upcoming DASUDA Nkomo Conversations Urban Design Conference on Accra, taking place from 25th to 27th February 2015 at the Library. The event – a DASUDA initiative, organised with Dutch partners AAmatters and Cityförster and local partners ArchiAfrika – is a series of presentations, discussions and workshops funded and supported by the Government of the Netherlands, the Netherlands Enterprise Agency [of the Dutch Ministry of Economic Affairs (] and the Kingdom of the Netherlands Embassy in Ghana. The conference is a follow up to the 'Accra Revisited: How Creative Impulses Underpinned by Economy and Culture, Can Reshape It’ mini-symposium organised by the Netherlands Embassy in Accra on the 9th of January 2015. This conference seeks to build upon existing development plans and initiatives in Accra and Ghana in order to initiate outcomes that can be built upon and executed in the medium to longterm. Invited are some of the leading voices and advocates in the realm of economy, finance and economy, design and architecture, and the creative arts and culture. This broad range of participants will lead to a balanced and unique perspective on how Accra could develop into a city that is about context, culture, economy, and most importantly, unique infrastructure in its broadest terms. Key participants of the conference include the Deputy Minister of Finance Hon. Mona Quartey and Deputy Minister of Transport Joyce Bawah-Mogtari; Representative of the Mayor’s office in Accra Honourable Robert Ansah, former Mayor of Accra Honourable Nat Amarteifio, Ghana Institute of Architects President Joseph Hayford, prominent architects from Ghana and the ECOWAS region and many others who will lend their voices and thoughts to be relook at the great potential that Accra offers. Berend van der Lans from AAmatters will contribute with a workshop on Heritage as Capital, focusing upon private interest in historic urban context that could become an important driver for the regeneration of important historic areas in Accra. The model that will be presented is based upon Stadsherstel Amsterdam NV. It is currently being established in Zanzibar as Hifadhi Zanzibar by visionary shareholders from the local private sector, in collaboration with Stadsherstel and AAmatters. The event is open to the public and takes place at the Children’s Library from the 25th to the 27th of February 2015.

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