At the 3rd edition of the Forum of Territorial Managers and Training Institutes targeting the Local Level in Africa (FAMI), the Secretary General of the African Union of Architects (AUA), Vinesh Chintaram, highlighted the need for greater collaboration between local authorities and architects from the continent.
See the video below (in french; also available as a transcript) recorded at the end of the FAMI, which was organized by the African Local Government Academy (ALGA) of UCLG Africa, 10 -14 June 2019, in Ifrane (Morocco).
Given that over 1.3 billion Africans will live in cities by 2050, what contribution can African architects bring to local and regional authorities that face the challenge of urbanization?
The training of architects is not solely limited to technical support. We can also provide many solutions for the transformation of cities ranging from city planning to urban planning codes, in order to create cohesion between the development and dynamism of cities. It is through the integration of these parameters that we can create development that is controlled and manageable. There is a lot of talk about the management of cities. What we need to understand is that cities must also be autonomous. It is this self-management that allows cities to generate financing for their development and for the maintenance of the city, such as the physical maintenance of building infrastructures, as well as providing activities and services to the urban population.
How can African local and regional authorities work in concrete ways, with the continent’s architects, whether in cities or rural areas, to ensure that they have buildings that are adapted to our realities?
There are issues relating to buildings that do not necessarily reflect the context in which they are built. As an architect, we must consider that we are there to promote sustainable development that adapts to a context, a climate and a culture. We cannot do this without consultation or without the participation of the inhabitant directly concerned, which we are doing more and more now, because there is an awareness of the need for interaction with the public. This is called the participatory approach. This really means understanding what they need, in terms of ease of use of buildings and facilities. I think there is a need for public decision-makers and local elected officials to understand that architects are there to provide solutions that can be urban policy solutions, to understand people, their expectations and transform the perception of these expectations into reality. Local and regional authorities have everything to win by integrating urban planners, architects and all those involved in spatial planning and the implementation of infrastructure projects.