Entitled “Searching for the promised land of Public Space: The key to an equitable African city”, it aims to highlight the need for learning exchanges between multiple tiers (local, regional & international) in furthering the debate on public spaces and how to rethink them.
The three day ‘Reimagining Public Spaces’ event, which took place in June in eThekwini (Durban), South Africa, was a catalyst for this booklet. It sought to function as a learning exchange on urban planning, and its several hundred delegates included both political and technical figures in local government, as well as urban planners and representatives of other, non-governmental, bodies. The outcomes of this South-South exchange constitute much of the booklet’s content.
An underlying conclusion of the paper is that the design of public space is central towards achieving equity in an urban environment. This is because, in the complex environment of a city, the well-being of residents of different groups is greatly influenced by their surrounding environment. The suitability of this environment should therefore constitute a right for all city residents.
Africa’s situation is interesting in this area, as its cities have inherited a segregated urban design from their colonial past. However due to the rapid growth of the continent’s cities, there is an opportunity to design much of their public space from scratch, thereby starting off “on the right foot” in striving for equality in public space.
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