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Building on Water: Intensive Site Trip Advances Urban Design

20 Oct

The design team travelled to the project site this month for an extended work trip aimed at guiding the urban design development phase.   The extensive land surveying shed great light on the existing site conditions.  With the help of GPS units, canoes, local farmers and other volunteers from the Umuoba Anam community, the team was able to traverse the full extent of the first phase site (Ebenebe), identifying inland waterways and gaining a better understanding of traditional socio-economic and settlement patterns.

The Ebenebe river edge

Of particular importance was understanding and recording the extent of the peak seasonal flooding on the site.  Because the Anam communities are in the Niger/Anambra river basin, most of their land is heavily impacted by the seasonal tropical rain.  So why build a new city in a flood zone?  How can such a significant greenfield development be feasible, let alone ecologically responsible?   It is the most important urban design challenge; balancing environmental protection with an urgent need to improve human quality of life.  The fact is the land is all the Anam people have, the hand they’ve been dealt.  It is both a source of life and struggle.  The flood cycle effectively cuts off communities from public services, economic activities and each other.  At the same time, it is a necessary ecological process that enriches the land and enables the Anam farmers to produce over 70% of the regional food demand.   As their present living conditions worsen, the Anam people have a right to self-actualization and preservation.  Proposed urban design strategies for the new Anam City will balance the regional hydrological cycle with domestic water solutions for a sustainable settlement.  Furthermore, the rurban/agropolitan model cultivates prosperity where it’s needed the most, the rural periphery, and mitigates the destructive forces of mass urban migration.

New LOGIC for Africa

1 Sep


The urgent need for sustainability today demands new systems of thinking and new approaches to problem solving — new spheres of logic.  Societies are no longer considered independent of the natural environment and neither can both exist outside of the influence of technology.  The Logic of the ANAM model is the unique conceptual basis and theoretical underpinning of our sustainability perspective, which lives in the confluence of three spheres: Sociologic, Ecologic and Technologic (SET).  The three spheres together form a regime of sustainability in which all three interactively control viability, performance and outcome.  These mutually reinforcing logics are used to assess each urban design strategy.

Sociologic: Communalism and interdependence are embedded in most African traditional cultures, yet often lost in modern society.  Because a truly sustainable urbanism is facilitated and manifested through its social roots, it must be grounded in cultural heritage, both in practice and in form.  Thus the system of collective progress, as defined by the society itself, is most resilient against socially destructive forces and reflective of the African tradition of development.  Therefore, a sociological strategy is understood as one that is culturally relevant, collectively improves human quality of life and encourages responsible citizenship.

Ecologic: Africa is blessed with abundant and diverse natural resources. The local ecology has been a source of physical sustenance, creative inspiration and a struggle for survival.  These three experiences are independently significant yet must be fairly and simultaneously addressed. Therefore, an ecological strategy is a balanced and respectful management of natural resources that meets human needs, enhances natural beauty and mitigates natural hazards.

Technologic: There is an urgent need in Africa for practical solutions to life-threatening problems stemming from natural and man-made causes.  An ‘urgent practicality’ means solutions must be readily implementable, scalable and able to yield tangible results for the present generation. Furthermore, local innovation within traditional systems is an important counter to the vulnerabilities of aid dependency. Therefore, a technological strategy is a practical, problem-solving application that appropriates indigenous knowledge systems, advances innovation, supports resilience and optimizes processes (time, money, resources).

Economics, though traditionally understood as the third sphere of sustainability, is excluded from this SET not as a devaluation of the global phenomena, but to advance the assertion that a system of production of material wealth is not central to, but results from the collective endurance and progress of humankind as derived from this SET.  The model posits the Logical SET of interrelationships as the basis for articulating a truly sustainable city, one that is both uniquely African and universally laudable.

The Future of Africa…

1 Jan

The Dr. Aloy & Gesare Chife Foundation has launched the ANAM new city project, a model for African development, intended to pave the way for a future of innovative and sustainable settlement patterns.

The vision is a timeless dream: to utilize the abundant resources of Africa to build sustainable and self-sufficient societies.

Sited in Anambra State, Nigeria, the project team will spend the next year developing research and design for the city, including a master plan and recommendations about infrastructure systems.

ANAM CITY is a flagship program of The Chife Foundation, a nonprofit organization established with the focus on improving the studying, teaching and application of technology in Africa. In conjunction with this development project, Dr. Chife (The Chife Foundation Co-Founder) is transforming the face of information technology in Africa.  See this video highlight about his work bringing Drivers License identification cards to Nigeria.

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