The Value and Dynamics of Community-Based Studio Projects in Planning Education in the Global South


Urbanisation is growing in the global South, but urban planning is not keeping up to address the problem of urban growth. Many planning schools in Africa still promote ideas transferred from the global North. (The master plan of Lusaka in Zambia, for instance, was based on the concept of the Garden City, but Garden City for whom?) Most planning schools fail to adequately prepare planning students for the problems they will later encounter in African cities. In order to confront the urbanisation pressures on the continent in all its unique dimensions, fundamental shifts are needed in the way planning schools on the continent prepare planners. Responding to this challenge, the University of Zambia (UNZA) launched a Master of Science degree in Spatial Planning in 2013. Informality and studio-based teaching and learning are major components of the programme. In an effort to raise some of the inherent challenges and benefits of running community-based studio projects in Africa, this study addresses the question: How can planning studio projects contribute to the overhauling of the planning profession in Africa? The paper uses a case study to draw upon the experiences of eighteen master’s students who were engaged in a community-based planning studio project in the Lusaka’s Kalikiliki informal settlement. The paper concludes that community-based studio projects present an opportunity that has potential for raising the consciousness of planners and enabling them to build on post-colonial, endogenous innovation inspired by cities of the global South.

About the Author

Gilbert Siame is a Lecturer in Master of Science in Spatial Planning Programme at The University of Zambia (UNZA), School of Natural Sciences, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies. He earned his Master of City and Regional Planning from the University of Cape Town, South Africa, where he completed his PhD studies in Architecture and Planning in June 2016. His research interests and projects include transforming planning education in Africa, cities and climate change, participatory slum upgrading, planning theory from the South, and urban governance. He is a co-founder and current director of the Centre for Urban Research and Planning at the University of Zambia.