July 2018

Zootopias: Forward-Thinking Zoos Designed to Advance Animal Welfare

[ By WebUrbanist in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Historically, zoos have been both productive and problematic for the animals they house, in some cases advocating for and publicizing real issues faced by species but also criticized for locking them up in inadequate captive conditions.

Designers from dozens of countries submitted fresh ideas to the Coexist: Rethinking Zoos architecture competition, pitching non-intrusive paths, virtual exhibits and, above all, keeping the health and wellbeing of animals in mind as well as scientific learning and public education.

Oil discoveries in Turkana six years ago haven't delivered benefits for women

Limited by illiteracy and workloads women are less involved in Turkana. Flickr/Tom Albinson

Turkana is a vast dry, remote county, in northwest Kenya, home to around 1.5 million nomadic livestock herders. The discovery of commercially viable oil deposits six years ago brought with it great expectations of economic transformation of the historically under served area.

The discovery of oil has indeed had major implications for communities in the area. But not all the changes have been positive.

We have been conducting research in Turkana over the past four years with the aim of understanding how the extractive industry affects communities and triggers conflict. We have done interviews and had group discussions with key decision makers, civil society groups and community members.

Ethiopians want love and forgiveness. But they want justice too

Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed replaced aloofness with authenticity. EPA-EFE/STR

In its long history, Ethiopia has seen a few political contours. These range from politics based on alleged divine will to scientific materialism – as a rejection of divine ascription – and to ethno-linguistic politics. While political personalities greatly differed from one another, one can legitimately argue that authoritarianism, the use of force and fear as a means of governing was common to all of them.

Ethiopia’s Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed so far has shown that he is a different breed. It’s as though he came already conscious of the abject failure of displays of strength, aloofness and fear in leadership role. He replaced aloofness with authenticity and went as far as acknowledging that his party was committing terrorist acts. People found him easy to trust. Instead of strength and force, he deployed a rather vulnerable alternative – love. People across ethnic and religious boundaries reciprocated the affection.

How changing the world's food systems can help to protect the planet

Technology can be used to help farmers produce good crops. Leo Sebastian (IRRI-CCAFS)

Going into debt with nature is a dangerous thing. When our stocks of water, land and clean air are spent – we don’t have a second planet to borrow from. But that’s exactly the way that Earth is heading. 1 August 2018 marks an annual event, “Earth Overshoot Day”: the day on which the natural resources the planet can regenerate within one year are exhausted. This is the earliest date on which Earth Overshoot Day has ever been reached.

One of the greatest pressure points pushing the planet to its limits is our food system. This is the way that humans grow, produce, transport and consume food. As these systems currently operate, they’re contributing negatively to climate change and deforestration; they’re compromising freshwater stocks and rapidly reducing biodiversity.

Food systems must be transformed to produce more nutritious food with a lower environmental footprint. There are a number of initiatives around the world working towards this end. Here are just five that use different kinds of science – from smart approaches to breeding livestock and crops to recycling wastewater – that could help humans settle their growing debt to the planet.

Semana Local de la Agenda 2030

La Semana Local de la Agenda 2030, organizada por la FEMP, acogerá:

  • el 4º taller para la localización de los ODS;
  • el curso de formación continua: "La Agenda 2030 en el ámbito local";
  • el encuentro PLATFORMA: "Cooperación descentralizada y Agenda 2030";
  • otros eventos.
Monday, 22 October, 2018 to Friday, 26 October, 2018

Cities for Adequate Housing: a call for action to ensure the right to housing


Our cities, without their souls, without their people, lose their very life. We defend this Declaration in order to defend our citizens and life in the city

Ada Colau, Mayor of Barcelona and Co-President of UCLG


Join the call! A worldwide commitment to realize the right to adequate housing for all

Cities like Amsterdam, Barcelona, Berlin, Mexico City, Durban, Lisbon, London, Montreal, Montevideo, Plaine Commune, New York, Paris and Seoul are already part of this movement. Other cities, such as Madrid and Strasbourg, are on their way.

In order to join it, we invite you to get in touch with citiesforhousing@uclg.org and to visit the website “Cities for Housing”.

The projects that are helping Zambian women get better access to land

A female farmer in Zambia tends to her crops. Margaret W. Nea/Bread for the World/Flickr, CC BY-NC-ND

When a woman has access to and control over land and its revenue streams, she and her family benefit. Multiple studies have shown how women invest their land-based earnings in the health, nutrition and education of family members.

But for this to happen, customs that favour granting land to men must be altered. This requires both structural change, through for example government policies, and socio-cultural change.

The Zambian government has worked with civil society organisations to create a gender equality and land governance framework. Civil society organisations have used their social networks and through capacity building programmes pursue gender equality in the allocation of land in customary tenure systems.

I set out to study some of these programmes. In a recent article, I documented how women gain access to land in areas of Zambia where access is governed by traditional leaders and local customs. I was specifically interested in the role that civil society organisations play in strengthening women’s land rights in these areas.

The free movement of people is an AU ambition: what's standing in its way

People from the DRC flee the fighting. Movement of people is restricted across the continent. EPA/DAI KUROKAWA

The African integration project took several major steps this year. One of them was the African Union’s adoption of a protocol on the free movement of people. The move has been widely welcomed.

The free movement of Africans between African countries could unquestionably facilitate growth. Allowing freer movement would encourage trade, tourism and investment between African countries. And it would allow students to study in other African countries and Africans with suitable skills to find rewarding jobs.

Opening up borders has been shown to have positive affects in other parts of the world. For example, growth of many Asian countries is significantly attributable to the liberalising of inter-Asian relationships including through an agreement between Southeast Asian countries that promotes freer mobility for workers.

Rubbish piles up in East London

Duncan village may have to wait until next year for illegal dump sites to be cleared

By Chris Gilili

Photo of rubbish
Residents of C-section in Duncan Village say illegal dump sites have not been cleared for a year. Photo: Chris Gilili

Residents of C-section in Duncan Village say there has been an increase in illegal dumping because there is no legal dump site for the informal settlement. They say rubbish is piling up, including rotten food, human waste and even dog carcasses.

Bongiwe Delihlazo, who has lived in the area for over ten years, said, “This area was not a dumping site before. There were shacks here and those people were moved to RDP houses in New Life. Residents now use it [the open land] as an illegal dumping site.”

“It’s funny because the [Buffalo City Metropolitan] municipality refuse collection truck passes here every week, but they just ignore the rubbish,” said Delihlazo.

“We live with big rats here. People dump human waste and urine at night after using buckets. This has been going on for over a year now. The smell goes straight to my shack because I live nearby,” she said.

“Last year, I mobilized a few residents and we cleared this illegal dumpsite with our own hands. But within a week, people came back to dump again,” said Delihlazo.

Hotel Jakarta / SeARCH

Courtesy of SeARCH Courtesy of SeARCH
  • Architects: SeARCH
  • Location: Java island, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
  • Client: WestCord Hotels
  • Area: 16500.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2018
Courtesy of SeARCH Courtesy of SeARCH

Text description provided by the architects. SeARCH in collaboration with WestCord Hotels won the tender of the city of Amsterdam for the development of a unique hotel at the very tip of Java Island.

Courtesy of SeARCH Courtesy of SeARCH

Given the prominent location on the IJ river, the city council wanted a unique hotel concept, not only in its architecture, but also in its public programming and sustainability.

Ruyi Bridge / ZZHK Architects

© Arch-Exist © Arch-Exist
  • Architects: ZZHK Architects
  • Location: Dayuan Park, Tianfuer Street, Gaoxin District, Chengdu, Sichuan, China
  • Architect In Charge: Ke Zhang
  • Design Team: Fan Chen, Jia Liu, Wenjie Zhen, Haochuan Ye, Bin Fan, Zhipu Cao
  • Collaborator: Southwest Municipal Engineering Design & Research Institute of China
  • Client: Chengdu Gaotou Construction Development Co., Ltd.
  • Area: 1151.0 m2
  • Project Year: 2018
  • Photographs: Arch-Exist

Zimbabwe poll explained: ballot papers galore, and loads of new politicians

MDC-Alliance supporters at a campaign rally addressed by the party leader Nelson Chamisa. EPA-EFE/Aaron Ufumeli

When Zimbabeans go to the polls they will be voting in what’s been dubbed “harmonised” elections.

When I see the word “harmony” used in the context of Zimbabwean politics, I shudder a bit. Instead of turning my gaze to the complicated combination of votes to be cast in this election, the term takes my mind back to the Zimbabwe African National Union’s (Zanu) guerrilla camps based in Mozambique in mid-1977.

Zanu had been through some tough years. In early 1975, the Lusaka-based national chairman Herbert Chitepo and his Volkswagen Beetle were blown to bits – just after a rebellion had been quelled. Robert Mugabe used the word “harmony” chillingly at the historic Chimoio central committee meeting as he took a large and nearly final step towards consolidating his rule over the fractious party and its army.

Mugabe was referring to the 1974 rebellion and another perceived one in 1976 when he uttered these chilling words, to be printed and published in Zimbabwe News, Zanu’s globally circulated magazine. He warned that

Room with a view: Occupiers explain why they have moved into a dilapidated Waterfront property

Living closer to the city has made life much easier

By Thembela Ntongana

Photo of Siseko Guza
Siseko Guza is one of several hundred people occupying Helen Bowden Nurses Home. Although he has a nice view over the Waterfront, living conditions in the building, which has no electricity and only one tap, are tough. Photo: Masixole Feni

“We are not asking for a luxury place. Just a place that will make it easier for us to make a living. Not Wolwerivier,” said Blessing Mahlangu.

She is one of several hundred people occupying the abandoned Helen Bowden Nurses Home directly opposite Cape Town’s Waterfront, and neighbouring Somerset Hospital. This large four-storey building with sprawling grounds must be worth tens if not hundreds of millions of rand. It has been unlawfully occupied by people working or studying nearby for over a year.

Mahlangu, 52, lives on the first floor. Her small room contains a bucket full of cooldrinks with ice, another with vegetables, and a table with chips, sweets, cigarettes and candles. She sits on top of her bed waiting for customers. She makes most of her money selling candles.

Mahlangu has been living here since November. Originally from Soshanguve in Pretoria she arrived in Cape Town in 2010 in search of “greener pastures”.

She worked as caregiver looking after a pensioner in Sea Point. At that time she rented a one-room apartment for R1,500 per month, but she lost her job and was evicted.

Microlino: Tiny Electric Car With Front “Hood Door” for Easy Urban Parking

[ By WebUrbanist in Technology & Vehicles & Mods. ]

The smallest of the small, this two-seat micro-machine features just one (quite literal) front door positioned where one would expect to find its engine, perfect for navigating and parking on tiny European streets.

Recharging is easy since the auto can plug into a conventional socket. Finding a spot also a breeze since the little car can slide into any old narrow slot then open in front (no need for side door clearance).

The electric vehicle was debuted last year in Geneva, but had to pass a series of safety tests before it could be approved for deployment on the open road. It has gotten the green light roll out next year in Switzerland, then Germany.

Why Nigeria had good reasons to delay signing Africa's free trade deal

Africa’s Free Trade Agreement proposes a single market for goods and services and investments across 55 countries. Shutterstock

Much has been made of the embarrassing withdrawal by Nigeria from signing the African Continental Free Trade Agreement earlier this year having initially made the commitment to sign them.

Its decision was criticised by many, including myself. These reactions were justifiable given the historical poor performance of Nigeria and other African states when it comes to their commitment to regional economic integration.

But, Nigeria’s decision needs to be evaluated in the light of the reason it’s given for the delay. The government has subsequently explained that it’s decision wasn’t a rejection of the trade accord. Rather, it said, it wanted time to consult with key stakeholders in the country. This includes the Nigerian labour congress, the manufacturers association as well as other players in the private sector.

Given the free trade area’s potential to reconfigure intra-African market and the continent’s relationship with global trading system, consulting Nigerians should play an important role in signing the agreement.

The agreement is the first of its kind in Africa. It proposes creating a single market for goods and services, with free movement of people and investments across 55 countries. The agreement has a dispute settlement mechanism similar to the one set up by the World Trade Organisation.

Why Zimbabwe's first elections after the Mugabe ouster are so significant

Supporters attend a Movement For Democratic Change-Alliance campaign rally in Harare. Aaron Ufumeli/EPA

The July 30 general election in Zimbabwe is significant because it marks the end to a campaign season which for the first time in decades has been without the influence of ousted president, Robert Mugabe. Unless the election fails to produce an outright winner with a 50+1 majority as stipulated by law, Zimbabweans will soon know who their next leader will be. The new president will serve a five year term.

The election comes just a few months after Mugabe was ousted at the military’s instigation. It will determine the country’s future in the world after so many years of being ostracised from the international community. The outcome will also shape Zimbabwe’s political and economic outlook. And it goes without saying that the onus will be on the new leader to usher in a new era for Zimbabweans.

Ukraine’s Endangered Brutalist Architecture Gets a Closer Look in Short Film

[ By SA Rogers in Architecture & Public & Institutional. ]

Some of Ukraine’s most stunning Soviet Modernist landmarks are at risk of demolition, including the State Scientific and Technical Library, better known as the ‘UFO Building.’ Grandiose and imposing, these concrete wonders may be fascinating to many of us who live outside of former USSR territories, but they can also be a reminder of a painful history, and to some, not worth maintaining. Many of these structures have already begun to crumble, nearly overtaken on all sides by slick modern malls and other developments.

A new short film called ‘Soviet Modernism, Brutalism, Post-Modernism: Buildings and Projects in Ukraine from 1960-1990’ takes a closer look at the Soviet-era gems found in cities like Kiev. Inspired by a book of the same name, which is due to be published this October, the film examines the architectural importance of these structures, particularly those built in the 1960s.

Lots of young South Africans aren't going to technical colleges. What can be done

Many South African students prefer universities and neglect technical colleges. EPA/Kim Ludbrook

Improved education is widely regarded as one of the key dimensions needed to address South Africa’s pervasive legacy of poverty, inequality and youth unemployment. Improving access to higher education and to technical colleges in particular has a special place in this debate.

The research is clear on this. The completion of any post-schooling education substantially improves labour market prospects. Therefore increasing access is critical.

But much of the debate has focused on the high costs of tertiary education and the need for fees to fall at universities. A bigger challenge is increasing the overall number of students enrolled in the technical college system known in South Africa as Technical and Vocational Education and Training.

Technical colleges are intended to provide vocational or mid-level skills education to school leavers with a minimum schooling level of Grade 9. They offer an important alternative to university for improving education and skills development.

Why South Africa needs to discipline the private healthcare industry


If a service is provided by a company rather than government, this does not automatically mean a market is at work. The point is fairly obvious but has passed many in South Africa by.

Private provision of services is moving into the spotlight in South Africa as the government looks to make the health system more accessible to the poor. One aspect is the Health Market Inquiry, established by the Competition Commission and chaired by former Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo. It recently released a provisional report recommending more regulation of private health care. It has invited comment on its ideas.

It is absolutely inevitable that whatever proposals it comes up with will be attacked as an assault on the free market in health care. This will ignore the reality – that there is no market in health care in South Africa, at least not one which works in the way in which markets are meant to work.

To get an obvious point out of the way first, markets work only for people who have enough money to take part. So it is true that a healthcare market in South Africa would exclude many people who cannot afford private care. But that is not the only problem with the private healthcare system – another is that even those who are able to join medical schemes do not get the benefits markets are meant to offer.

As global headwinds batter countries in BRICS, can it stay the course?

China's President Xi Jinping and South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa are expected to push for stronger ties at the 10th BRICS Summit. EPA/Phil Magakoe

The priorities and themes of the 10th BRICS Summit, ranging from peacekeeping to collaboration around the 4th Industrial Revolution, provide a number of issues that summit leaders say they want to pursue.

The summit in Johannesburg is the culmination of regular meetings held by the foreign ministers of Brazil, China, India and Russia since 2006. The BRICS political bloc was institutionalised as a platform in Yekaterinburg, Russia, on 16 June 2009. South Africa officially joined in 2011.

Reconciling domestic interests and priorities with international obligations will remain a fundamental focus for this meeting. But perhaps the more critical question to ask is how the bloc is going to strengthen its role and agenda in an international order that is characterised by fragmentation and uncertainty.

Vietnam’s Daring Golden Bridge Takes a “Hands-On” Approach to Tourism

via News Examiner via News Examiner

In the mountains above Da NangVietnam sits a unique piece of bridge design. Winding its way around a 150-meter course lined with flowers, a golden bridge shimmers against the Ba Na Hills, supported by a pair of giant hands.

The Golden Bridge opened to visitors in early June, in the tourist retreat of Thien Thai Garden. The bridge sits 1,400 meters above sea level, an altitude which creates the illusion of a silk strip hiding in the clouds above Da Nang.

Paragon Group celebrates its women associates and directors

25 July 2018
A culture of diversity, inclusivity, innovation, and attention to detail is the main driver of the Paragon Group, an architecture and interior architecture practice that has about 45% female representation at present.

As South Africa prepares to celebrate Women’s Day on Wednesday 9 August, Paragon Group Human Resources and Operations Director Cindy Faux comments that Founding Directors Anthony Orelowitz and Henning Rasmuss were sufficiently forward-thinking in 1997 when they established the Paragon Group to entrench these values.

“The ultimate message that we convey to our staff is that, while we deal with spaces and buildings, everything we do at the end of the day impacts on people. It is about the relationships we establish with our clients, and our investment in those relationships. We have a passion for what we do, which translates into us being one of the leading architecture and interior architecture practices in South Africa. However, we would not have reached this level if we did not invest in our staff, and this investment shows in their passion and vision,” Faux comments.

Mali's next president: some 'what ifs' for the 2018 elections

Malian president Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta at the recent AU Summit in Mauritania. EPA-EFE/Ludovic Marin

Mali scholar and professor of anthropology Bruce Whitehouse has made three predictions about Mali’s upcoming presidential election, with the first round scheduled for July 29, 2018.

Whitehouse predicts low voter turnout, a victory for the incumbent and results that will not make a difference one way or the other. He also hopes that he is wrong. And what if he is? What if Malians’ popular dissatisfaction motivates voters to defeat the incumbent Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta?

What if a change in top leadership catalyses the slow and difficult work to repair state–society relations? What if this election triggers the renewal of the authority and legitimacy of the Malian state?

These “what ifs” should neither encourage unbridled optimism, nor be dismissed out of hand. The current election campaign has happened in complex and deeply troubling conditions.

Yet, Mali’s citizens continue to express their frustrations with status quo governance. The country has been on a 25-year journey to democratisation and the road has been rough. And yet Malians somehow retain their trust in democratic principles. This year in particular they are dissenting loudly.

Administrator - Registrations

The South African Council for the Architecture Profession (SACAP) is the regulatory authority for the Architectural Profession established from the Architectural Profession Act, 2000 (Act No. 44 of 2000) (referred to as “the Act”). SACAP is one of the six built environment professional councils resorting under the Council for the Built Environment (CBE) which reports to the Minister of the Department of Public Works (DPW).

SACAP regulates the profession as follows:

·            Registration of suitably qualified architectural professionals and candidates.
·            Administers a code of professional conduct.
·            Guides the architectural profession by issuing guideline professional fees
·            Protects the public’ interest by identifying the type of architectural work each   category of professionally registered person.
·            Regulates the standards of architectural education offered at Tertiary institutions, (referred to as Architectural Learning Sites).
·            Recognises architectural voluntary associations which provide the profession with Continuing Professional Development (CPD) courses.

Earth Box / Equipo de Arquitectura

© Leonardo Mendez © Leonardo Mendez
  • Construction Of Mud Walls: Yago García, Nelson Pérez, Rodney, Casildo, Raúl y Diego.
  • Smithy: Javier Jimenez
  • Woodwork: Marcial Careaga
  • Glass Work: Carlos Melgarejo
  • Reinforced Concrete: Gerardo Pérez
  • Gardening: Lucila Garay
  • Electricity: Guillermo López
  • Structural Calculation: Emilio Richer

Virtual Atlas: New Book Explores Digital Cities Inside 40 Video Games

[ By WebUrbanist in Gaming & Computing & Technology. ]

Spanning 40 years of gameplay and 40 different games, this new volume dives into the design and history of dozens of virtual realities, acting as a travel guide to imaginative places that only exist in cyberspace.

Game developer and writer Konstantinos Dimopoulos’s upcoming book is called Virtual Cities: An Atlas & Exploration of Video Game Cities and features classic virtual environments from Fallout to Silent Hill, including some that overlap in uncanny ways with reality (like New Vegas).

Maps and illustrations will accompany commentary from the author, who has a PhD in urban planning and geography and designs spaces for games, making him well-suited to explore the layouts of these places.

Evictions in Nairobi: why the city has a problem and what can be done to fix it

About 250,000 people live in Kibera slum in Nairobi. Shutterstock/Authentic travel

A new road in Nairobi, Kenya, is set to displace up to 30,000 Kibera slum residents. The bulldozers moved in the early hours of the morning as authorities pressed ahead with a controversial decision to force people out. Kefa Otiso explains why forced evictions are so prevalent in Nairobi, and what can be done to prevent them.

Why do forced evictions happen in Nairobi?

They happen for lots of reasons. But the mains ones are ambitious development plans, the high cost of land, an acute shortage of affordable housing, and a lack of land rights.

Evictions happen when people fail to pay loans or rent, or when they illegally occupy public or private land. They also result from land ownership disputes – though some of these are criminally engineered through irregular or corrupt land deals.

But probably the most visible cases of forced eviction happen when the government reclaims land for public uses like road construction. This problem is not unique to Nairobi; it is prevalent in many other African cities.

Cape Town’s neglected council flats

City says it will spend R147 million on upgrades to the rental units it owns

By Mary-Anne Gontsana and Thembela Ntongana

Photo of a block of flats
Residents pay R20 a month to the City of Cape Town in Block C, a former hostel in Langa. All photos: Ashraf Hendricks

The City of Cape Town owns approximately 50,000 rental units. Some were built in the 1940s. GroundUp visited five homes of people who are living in rental units in Parkwood, Lavender Hill and Langa.

In July, the City announced it will spend R147 million over two years to upgrade a number of its council rental units across the metro.

Margaret Hermanus is 61 years old and shares a two-bedroom flat in Parkwood with 11 family members.

Margaret Hermanus has been living in the same flat for 23 years. Now 61, she shares her two-bedroom flat in in Blackbird Avenue, Parkwood, with 11 other family members.

A tale of two Chinas: the story of South Africa's switch from Taipei to Beijing

Former Chinese President Jiang Zemin greets former South African President Nelson Mandela in 2000. EPA/Mike Hutchings

It is 20 years since South Africa and the People’s Republic of China, or mainland China, established formal diplomatic ties. Though China is now South Africa’s largest trading partner and a co-member of the BRICS grouping which also includes Brazil, Russia and India, relations between South Africa and China were not always so close.

When President Nelson Mandela took office in May 1994, he was immediately confronted with a vexing foreign policy problem: how to balance the country’s diplomatic relations with Taiwan – inherited from the apartheid government – with Beijing’s “One China principle”. This principle holds that Taiwan is part of China, and that Beijing is the only legitimate authority over all of China.

In a recently published paper based on archival material as well as interviews with former South African officials, we shed light on the texture and timing of the decision to recognise China and cut ties with Taiwan.

A vicious online propaganda war that includes fake news is being waged in Zimbabwe

Protesters from the MDC-Alliance march in Harare demanding electoral reforms. EPA-EFE/Aaron Ufumeli

Fake news is on the upsurge as Zimbabwe gears up for its watershed elections on 30 July. Mobile internet and social media have become vehicles for spreading a mix of fake news, rumour, hatred, disinformation and misinformation. This has happened because there are no explicit official rules on the use of social media in an election.

Coming soon after the 2017 military coup that ended Robert Mugabe’s 37 years in power, these are the first elections since independence without his towering and domineering figure. They are also the first elections in many years without opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai, who died in February.

The polls therefore potentially mark the beginning of a new order in Zimbabwe. The stakes are extremely high.

For the ruling Zanu-PF, the elections are crucial for legitimising President Emmerson Mnangagwa (75)‘s reign, and restoring constitutionalism. The opposition, particularly the MDC-Alliance led by Tsvangirai’s youthful successor, Nelson Chamisa (40), views the elections as a real chance to capture power after Mugabe’s departure.