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Join Anam team at FUTURE CITIES AFRICA (Economist Conference) in Lagos May 30/31st

27 Apr

Join us for a major summit on the future of cities in Africa

The most compelling growth opportunities are in Africa’s cities. In the next 10 years the continent’s population will rise beyond 1.5bn and consumer spending is predicted top $1.5 trillion.  The Anam design team will attend the event and live blog many of the sessions. 

Future Cities:  Managing Africa’s urban transformation

May 30th–31st 2012

Eko Expo Centre, Lagos

Future Cities, organised by Economist Conferences, is a major international conference, exploring innovative new approaches to designing, managing and financing Africa’s cities.

The event will feature leading authorities in urban planning, construction, transport, energy, architecture and sustainability, including the mayors of Lagos State, Johannesburg, Harare, Durban, Dar Es Salaam and Cape Town.

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Babatunde Fashola, Executive Governor of Lagos State
  • Parks Tau, Executive Mayor of Johannesburg
  • Mohamed Alabbar, Chairman, Emaar Properties
  • Kuma Demeksa, Executive Mayor of Addis Ababa
  • He Liehui, Managing Director, Touchroad International Holding Group

Special NGO and academic rates are available. For further information and to register, visit quoting code ANAM.


Who owns a smart city’s intelligence?

7 Dec


Thanks to architect and urban economist Isabel Carreras-Baquer (who participated in the inaugural Anam Rurban Design Workshop), we presented Anam City at the 2011 Smart City Expo in Barcelona, Spain.

The Expo had an incredible line-up of speakers plus exhibition of a host of cutting-edge technologies for intelligent systems at the urban scale.

It also highlights the birth of an emerging business/cult of the ‘smart city,’ with real implications on the future balance of human freedom vis-à-vis the ever-extending reach of corporate power.

The Expo, an industry-driven technological showcase, sought to cross-fertilize the ideas and professional expertise of business leaders, tech researchers and urban policy-makers with the strategic impulse of global technology enterprises hungry for more: more wired cities mean a new market for the hardware and software required to render cities as computational machines.

City as Computer

Who controls these systems? [i.e. operating systems for smart cities]

Control shifts to the firms that sell these systems – some of the functions of local governments pass to the firms that developed these intelligent systems

The interaction between technical systems and the buildings they inhabit: the more complex and all encompassing the system, the more the probability that when the tech becomes obsolete, the buildings lose enormous value and become second-class buildings, and even simply obsolete and are torn down. (Obsolescence cycle is becoming shorter).

– Text of slide from Saskia Sassen’s APC11 keynote at Siège de la région du grand Casablanca

In her keynote at the African Perspectives Conference 2011 in Casablanca, Morocco (where we also presented Anam City), Saskia Sassen proposed that there is a fundamental distinction between “hacking the city” and “the city as hacker.” Sassen argues that while “many non-urban processes now have an urban moment in their trajectories,” the city—which is an incomplete and complex open-source architecture—must be understood as a “knowledge partner.” She labels as “coders” the authors of the city as an intelligent system and equates them to engineers, who prescibe the working mechanism of the urban machine and thereby draw power from (local) governments as they control the systems of control. Ultimately, Sassen locates the space of interactive open-source urbanism in-between this top-down “logic of the engineer” and the bottom-up “logic of the user.” (Francesc Santacana offered a similar assessment during our City Case Study session at the Expo.)

What this means, at a point in time exemplified by the actualization of the urban panopticon – pdf (one CCTV camera for every 12 UK citizens), when mobile phones and credit cards now track users across borders, and as private companies increasingly usurp public authority through the technology-assisted private provision of public services, is that citizens need to be far more aggressively proactive in demanding that they retain the capacity to “hack the city.” The city, fast-approaching self-awareness and always a system unto itself, will continue regardless to hack the society in which it is grounded.

In short, we are hurtling toward science fiction. Within the lifetime of the young people who are leading the #occupy protests world-wide, cities will become vastly more structured urban machines, with operating systems that command huge storage, computational and surveillance data infrastructure. The degree to which corporations control this physical counter-landscape of technology, as well as the expertise to manage it, will determine the extent to which the city remains public. And hackable. (See: #whOWNSpace)

Social Technology

Presenting Anam City at the Expo was particularly interesting because Anam as a project is both related to and also a breed apart from the high tech smart city championed by corporate initiatives like IBM’s Smarter City Challenge. What is new about Anam City is not new technology per se. Rather it is the proposition that combining the myriad intermediate and appropriate technologies already proven over the past half-century—but which remain largely absent across Africa today—together with Nigeria’s mobile web, offers a powerful opportunity to build better, smarter communities. The only way what is in theory eminently viable becomes feasible is by embedding this array of technology in a cultural wrapper that “makes it work.” Anam’s innovation is the socially-embedded simultaneous convergence of the not-new, the iterative process of a community collectively hacking itself.


Anam City presents in Casablanca at African Perspectives Conference

10 Nov

Recognized as an emerging model for urbanism in Africa, the Anam City project presented at the 2011 African Perspectives conference, a prominent symposium that brings together top academic and professionals engaged in design and architectural work around the continent. The conference, organized by ArchiAfrika out of the Netherlands was held from November 3-7th, 2011 in Casablanca, Morocco.  This year’s main theme was the ‘The African Metropolis’, offering the challenging topic of urban growth in Africa.  Keynote speaker, sociologist Saskia Sassen kicked off the event by discussing the importance of technology in the city and ways that the urban metropolis and its residents can communicate.    Other speakers from around the world presented on subtopics including:

  • African urbanity: informal/formal
  • From landscape of industrial production to productive cultural cityscape, and
  • The periphery of the African metropolis

The Anam City project was very well received and the Chife Foundation team was able to connect with other practitioners and researchers who are developing other concepts compatible with our interest in sustainability in the African city.   African architect, Joe Osae-Addo in particular lauded the Anam City Project as an example of using design to stimulate social entrepreneurship.

The next conference will be held in 2013 in Nigeria.  The Chife Foundation plans to participate and will bring updates on the construction of Anam City.  We will have a lot to show off in two years!

Saskia Sassen opened the conference on the African Metropolis

Farewell Message to the Interns

17 Aug

Interns traveling to Otuocha by boat on the Ezichi River , July 2011

Whatsoever has a beginning must surely have and end, even a journey of thousand miles. The smooth commencement of the 2011 internship programme and Rurban Design Workshop has finally come to a joyous end.

It is possible that many of you were discouraged by friends, parents and well wishers to come to Africa in the first place. The truth is that you have come, you have seen and you have conquered.

Having served our community, Anam, our great country, Nigeria and our continent Africa with selflessness which have brought gladness and fulfillment to you, a service which you rendered in humility, its now time to say goodbye.

We thank God that you have seen that Africa is lovely, Nigeria is great and interesting, Anam is accommodating and full of potentials.

Borrowing from Dr Aloy Chife, in his speech during his last visit to Ebenebe (in the month of July),”We hope that some of you will love to come back and stay like Stacy, Abena and DK who decided to make a career with the Foundation because of their love and passion for Africa.”

Interns learning to use GPS to collect site information to use in the design of Anam New City

Your programme witnessed a great change in the Foundation and the community at large. The first seed projects (the fish pond and the brick factory) have fully commenced work.

Indeed, your sojourn has brought good fortune to the Foundation and our community, Anam. It was your coming that quenched the would be conflict in the community. Your comming also created a lot of impact and awareness to the people.

No doubt you had made life lasting contacts and friends in Anam and I’m sure you will keep in touch and always reach out to your friend at any point in time.

Finally, I wish to appreciate the efforts and encouragement of  Dr. Aloy Chife and Mrs. Gesare Chife. They brought their wide experience to intimate this programme. Mrs. Gesare Chife has worked very hard to ensure a successful completion of this programme.

Several interns and Anam residents in Iyora-Anam

We hope once again that we have been able to meet your needs to serve the humanity.  May good fortune take you as you re-unite with your loved ones. I wish you all safe journey to your various countries/homes.

God bless you all. Bon voyage !

Post by: Linus Ifeyani Nnekwe

Villages of Anam: A Tour of Beautiful Iyora

24 Jun

Elders welcome Anam City Rurban Design Workshop to Iyora

As discussed in the Master Plan, the Anam people includes eight distinct communities: Iyora, Umueze, Umuikwu, Umudora, Oroma, Umuem, Nmiata, and Umuoba. Each of their villages has its own traditional leadership councils and cultural celebrations, creating a unique identity for each settlement. During a series of blog posts over the coming months, the Anam Rurban Design Workshop will visit and study many of these settlements, noting how these distinctive traditions, lifestyles, and land-use strategies can be incorporated into the vision for Anam New City.

The first tour of the Workshop took us to the Village of Iyora on the eastern side of the Ezichi River. Beautiful and idyllic, it  is also a town of contrasts. The community is energetic and welcoming, albeit much of the resident population is comprised of children and elders, with remarkably few teenagers and adults of working age. The housing structures and surrounding farms also reflect parallel evolutionary processes. The settlement consists of cinderblock and cement family homes organized around piazza-like outdoor spaces, often including smaller bamboo structures that serve as cooking spaces. Alongside this, however, are many unfinished structures appears temporarily on hold or permanently abandoned. Piles of bricks collecting moss and the beginnings of cement foundations with exposed rebar reinforcements populate the landscape as hopeful semi-permanent features.

A Family House in Iyora

Complementing these infrastructures, Anamites in Iyora employ a range of techniques to maximize the productive use of land. Each crop is clearly placed according to well-practiced patterns. The result is a verdant landscape of mixed-use and productive gardens. For example, in one central area of town, a palm tree is ringed by pineapple plants, which are further surrounded by sweet potatoes. Each plant also serves a variety of purposes: the nut of the palm tree is cracked and boiled down for oil; the husks are used for sweeping and cleaning. No part of the palm tree is left unused. In other areas, melons are intercropped with yam and corn. When not filled with water, ponds throughout town are planted with a variety of crops, illustrating individual farming initiatives woven into a larger community consensus on land use. Each parcel of farmland tells a backstory of long planned techniques; while the town’s layout as a whole reveals a narrative in communal land management.

Iyora is a unique mix of land uses.

The Anam New City project hopes to blend the strong cultural traditions seen in Iyora with the expanded economic opportunities of a more connected settlement.    By introducing seed projects, such as a brick factory and fish farm, Anam New City will allow Anamites to achieve a viable lifestyle without forgoing the community’s valuable heritage in agriculture.   As an innovative mix of rural and urban, individual and community, economic growth and sustainability, tradition and invention, the Rurban Design Workshop will continue build on existing land use practices in hybrid with the rurban model of Anam City’s urban design.

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