Beyond the numbers heralding the rate and challenges of urbanization across Africa, and the growing optimism, in the 21st century, of the prospects of African cities, there are some serious discussions to be had regarding the social, spatial, economic and environmental changes taking place.
Each African country’s responses to the rise in the urban population vary. While located examination and dialogue within each context is essential, it is equally important to take a step back and review the region wide dynamics in urbanization. The different forms of urbanization taking place in different cities in Africa signal transitions in motion—processes that manifest in changes at a macroeconomic level, as well as in everyday life shifts, choices and struggles. The aspirations of states, residents and private actors and the push and pull among them mark the dynamics of the changes happening with cities as platforms. On 14 January, BK Talks will address the rapid current transformation of the African built environment in the broader context of climate change and the risks it poses such as desertification, flooding and food insecurity, to name just a few.
From tabula rasa urbanization to UN Habitat practices in the existing cities, the top down, the bottom up… how are everyday lives understood and reimagined in urbanization processes within and around existing cities? What should the ‘new cities’ in the region be imagined and emerge out of? How can urban growth be inclusive, resilient and grounded both as processes and results?
BK Talks do not intend to treat Africa as a uniform block. On the contrary, we understand the continent as a collection of differentiated territories, cultures, histories and societies. BK Talks intention is to include as many voices as possible beyond the prominent design discourse.