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Playing Mahonda – High Rise wishes?

Mahonda , currently a small agricultural village north of Zanzibar Town, is planned to grow into a regional centre catering for a population of around 20,000 souls in 2035, according to the National Spatial Development Strategy developed by the Zanzibar Department of Urban and Rural Planning (DoURP) in 2015.

As one of the many new urban developments initiated on the Unguja Island, Mahonda was chosen as a case study for a workshop aiming to test the adaptive planning principles developed in the book To Build a City in Africa: A History and a Manual (Nai010, 2019). This gave Rachel Keeton, the co-author of the book and a PhD researcher at the Delft University of Technology the chance to put theory in practice, so to say.

The workshop took place from 21 – 27 September 2019. Its programme was developed by the DoURP in collaboration with Play the City and AAmatters. Play the City (a global practice that supports public and private parties on large scale development projects through city gaming) was responsible for the participatory process while AAmatters brought in its know-how on the development of planning documents in Zanzibar and provided context insights.

The ‘Play Mahonda’ session counting 48 participants from the village, intensively ‘playing Mahonda’ under the stimulating guidance of Cristina Ampatzidou, was the highlight of the weeklong work. ‘Play Mahonda’ was followed by design sessions with the DoURP team, combined with expert presentations by Priscila Izar (Ardhi University in Dar es Salaam) on ‘Exploring Urbanisation from the Ground: the Experiences from Dar es Salaam’, Simone Rots (INTI) on ‘Sites and Services approaches’, Anteneh Tola (TU Delft) on ‘New Towns in Rural Areas with BuraNEST (Ethiopia) as example’ and Igor Pessoa (TU Delft) on ‘Participatory Planning Processes’.

Although the course of events as well as the outcomes of the workshop brought a lot of surprises, much could be learned about the participatory planning process forming its backbone and Mahonda as a settlement. The workshop also brought to light residents’ interesting visions for the future of their village. Certainly an inspiring starting point for the impending development of the Local Area Plan for Mahonda.

The events were made possible with the support of EFL Foundation, Delft Global Initiative and the DoURP.

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