I am an urbanist specialising on Lagos, Nigeria with research interests in emerging theoretical concepts and methodological approaches to the urban realities of African urbanism particularly in regard to the related issues of dual land regimes involving customary authority, differentiating the informal and informality, the role of rental housing, the implications of piecemeal service provision and ‘urban majorities’ – the prevalent not-poorest, not-wealthy population, urban fabric and ways of doing that are often ignored in literature and policy. I am also interested in comparative urbanism as a way to produce this knowledge. From 2011-2015 I was part of the comparative project Planetary Urbanisation in Comparative Perspective lead by Christian Schmid of ETH Zurich, that put eight urban regions into comparison to produce new theoretical categories based on deep empirical work put in comparative perspective. I previously completed an Architectural Design degree and MSc. in The City at University of Edinburgh.


As a visiting researcher at ACC I completed my PhD thesis on conceptualising ‘Plotting’ as a new theoretical category to better describe and analyse the prevalent residential areas of Lagos, Nigeria. This was done through a grounded theory approach in a wider comparative framework. As such, the thesis responds to the need for new terms, concepts and methods with which to address African and ‘Southern’ urbanism. The work addressed aspects of Lagos that normative approaches have struggled to recognise and analyse such as the dual land regime, the role of customary authorities, moving beyond the formal-informal dichotomy, the growth of Lagos despite sustained political, economic and social instability, and the apparent lack of political organisation and demands from the people in the face of deep inequalities and an elitist and incapacitated state who does little to address their needs. This work was mostly funded by the Future Cities Laboratory, Singapore and ETH Zurich.



2015. Sawyer, Lindsay with Christian Schmid. 2015. “Bypass Urbanism as a Process of Urbanisation.” In Jahrbuch D-ARCH ETH Zürich. Zürich: gta Verlag


2014. Sawyer, Lindsay. Piecemeal Urbanisation at the Peripheries of Lagos. African Studies Quarterly, 73(2)


Publications | working/in press

2018. Schmid et al., Planetary Urbanisation in Comparative Perspective: Towards a New Vocabulary of the Urban. forthcoming


2016. Sawyer, Lindsay with Pascal Kallenberger, Ozan Karaman, Tammy Wong. Plotted Urban Development – A new category for urban theory. Working Paper, ETH Zürich


2016. Sawyer, Lindsay with Monika Streule, Pascal Kallenberger, Bypass Urbanism – The unequal restructuring of entire urban regions. Working Paper, ETH Zürich


2016. Sawyer, Lindsay. Popular Strategies and Beautified Parks. The entangled production of urban natures in Lagos. In Grounded Urban Natures: Histories and Futures of Urban Ecologies. Henrik Ernstson and Sverker Sörlin (eds.) MIT Press, forthcoming


2016. Sawyer, Lindsay with Monika Streule and Ozan Karaman. Popular urbanisation – A comparative concept of the analysis of contemporary urbanisation processes. Working Paper, ETH Zürich.



2013. Exhibition of photographs at The Megacity and the NonCity, LagosPhoto 2013. Lagos, Nigeria 18 October – 8 November 2013.



2013. Sawyer, Lindsay. Lagos: The City Is the People, shortlisted film for Cinecity Architectural Film Project, 2013.