Architecture and Urbanism in the Global South
Olweny, Mark R. O.
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As we enter the second decade of the current millennium, we find ourselves in a world where the majority of humanity resides in urban areas. As urbanisation continues, we can pose questions about the future of these urban areas and the decisions that need to be taken to ensure that these centres are sustainable into the future. There is increased interest in urban areas of the Global South. They could, arguably, be viewed as efficient and sustainable, not entirely by design, but by default, brought about by circumstances unique to them. This state of affairs is fast changing as many urban areas take on the architecture and urban infrastructure that changes the way people live and work, and consequently may impact on their future viability as well as their sustainability. The state of architecture and urbanism in the Global South presents us with a unique opportunity to evaluate global challenges related to urban sustainability from a new perspective. Are there lessons for architects, landscape architects and urban designers alike, based not on the ensuing debate revolving around the here and now, but rather, the needs of the next generation, and future of architecture and urbanism? Can there be a productive transfer of best practice principles between different cities across the globe? The ever-increasing number of inter-country exchange programmes, studio projects, and design-build projects set in the Global South, from India, to South America and across Africa, suggest that there are lessons that can be taught and learnt. These projects, set to help urban and rural societies with infrastructure and technological transfer, also aid the transfer of knowledge back to the participants, related to sustainable futures at different scales - from individual buildings to the district and urban-scales. As we think of the nature of urban areas across the globe, how can we ensure they are sustainable into the future? How can the rapid growth of urban areas in the Global South, often erratic and based on unsustainable practices and principles, seek to avoid the inevitable negative consequences of such growth? Further still, what lessons from the Global South would be useful to cities in the Global North?
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