Designing the Informal - Spatial design strategies for the emerging urbanization around water bodies in Ethiopia

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URN urn:nbn:de:gbv:1373-opus-2497
URL
Dokumentart: Dissertation
Institut: Stadtplanung
Hauptberichter: Läpple, Dieter (Prof. em.)
Sprache: Englisch
Tag der mündlichen Prüfung: 17.08.2015
Erstellungsjahr: 2015
Publikationsdatum:
SWD-Schlagwörter: Spontansiedlung , Äthiopien , Siedlungsstruktur
Freie Schlagwörter (Englisch): informal settlements , spatial design , regional development planning
DDC-Sachgruppe: Landschaftsgestaltung, Raumplanung

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

This research claims that Ethiopia is experiencing a historic shift in its urbanization pattern in particular and settlement structure in general. It asserts that the shift is happening rapidly in a predominantly informal process in the absence of an urban tradition which can support the peculiarity of the emergence. Focusing particularly on the relationship between urbanization and major water bodies in the country, the research underscores an emerging change which is generated by the interplay of poverty; persistent population growth; a forceful top-down steering to speed up economic development; and the fragility of the regional ecological systems. The longstanding Ethiopian urban setting, which has been predominantly concentrated on highlands, and its current redicaments defy descriptions of (African) urbanization. Major water bodies in particular (large rivers and lakes which characterize the landscape of Ethiopia), have not been contributing to urbanization and urban development neither as preferred locations for habitation nor as inputs or media for production (be it agriculture, manufacturing or exchange). Describing the peculiarity as a background, the research reveals an emerging shift which redraws water bodies and their surroundings as contested spaces. It also draws attention by highlighting possible threats and potentialities within the emerging socio-spatial, socio-economic, and environmental reconfigurations which is dominated by informality. The study approaches the phenomenon of change from two complementary perspectives - macro and micro levels. While from the macro level it examines the nature and orientation of historical and current trends of urban patterns in relation to major water bodies, from a micro level, through multiple case studies, it investigates the details of the emerging urban manifestations around water bodies focusing on the spatial dimension of the informal modes of urban production. The macro level study identified a rather multiple but interrelated factors which confined Ethiopian urban centers on highlands and away from large water bodies. These forces are discussed under four main categories: geographic and environmental, geo-political and security, socio-cultural, and socio-economic forces. By tracing changes in the configuration of these factors, it underscores the causes of the emerging shift. The micro level investigation, in the other hand, reveals that water related livelihood opportunities are the main forces which pull inhabitants towards water bodies and give structure for both physical (spatial) and social formations. Moreover, it also highlights that the water body and the physical space around it, as central common resources for the production of both livelihood and architectural space, are governed primarily by self-organized local associations. The research, however, underscores the limitations within these associations in order to respond to challenges wider than their immediate localities, which exposes both the water body (the environment at large) and the settlements (including both the livelihood production and architectural spaces) to serious challenges. Hence, recognizing these local processes (of both production and governance - which commonly are referred as ‘informal‘), as key entry points, the study asserts the necessity and urgency of devising a strategy to guide the processes of urbanization - hence, ‘designing the informal’. Accordingly, it proposes readjustments in both macro and micro levels targeting the coordination of core processes through a balanced interplay between the local societal organization (bottom-up) and the formal administrative structures (top-down). Architectural space production, livelihood production, and environmental rehabilitation are identified as core processes which need to be coordinated. At the macro-level, it calls for a policy re-orientation and proposes an enabling policy framework which promotes the empowerment of local processes as its core principle. At the microlevel, spatial design guideline is formulated. Recognizing the existing local decision making and production processes, the guideline aims to enable them to respond to large scale economic and environmental challenges. Furthermore, the study underscores the need of reorientation in the education of spatial design professionals in Ethiopia in order to make it responsive to local processes and realities.

Kurzfassung auf Englisch:

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