African Urban Futures

ACC and the Urban Futures Studio at Utrecht University are undertaking a two-year investigation into processes of futuring that can advance traction for sustainable urban transitions among city leaders and decision-makers. The project rests on the assumption that sustainable urban development requires a break with the present logic of development that predominates in most African countries.

The present logic is tethered to a modernist vision of advanced post-industrial development that thrives through extractive energy and production systems, reinforced by a consumerist culture. In this imagination chamber, cities are the most sophisticated expressions of modernist progress and productive circulation, manifest in highways, skyscrapers, pristine suburbs and convenience for urban consumers. The environmental, social and economic costs of these ambitions are usually ignored.

The project recognises that there is now considerable evidence and discourse on what sustainable urbanisms might entail in an African context, but this has not been translated into compelling narratives that are resonant with political and policy leaders. The project asks, how might this be changed? How can examples of emergent experiments in sustainable inform new narratives. What kind of institutional and regulatory adaptations and inventions are required to translate experimental intent to the new normal?