The quality of life in future cities is directly related to the manner in which urbanization realities, challenges, and opportunities are handled today. Researchers, academia, legislators, governments, professionals and the private sector etc. must prepare for the needs and expectations of an urban future. This requires smart and interrelated approaches to social, economic, infrastructure, spatial and environmental issues guided by sound policies and partnerships.
More than 50% of the global population lives in urban areas. In 2009, Africa’s total population for the first time exceeded 1 billion, of which almost 40% lived in urban areas. It is evident therefore that urban studies are vital in the 21st century because they engage the totality of design, including but not limited to the professions of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Urban Planning and Regional Planning.
There is an increasing need for professionals in urban studies (in private companies, public agencies at all levels of government, as well as within non-governmental organizations) to tackle various challenges of urban development. It requires excellent planning, design and management, and a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach to problems solutions.
Professionals in urban studies are required to address the following pertinent challenges in urban areas:
i. Guiding higher density infill developments in traditional urban centres.
ii. Retrofitting obsolescent suburban developments
iii. Suggesting sustainable development at the sprawling metropolitan fringes
iv. Designing basic transportation and mobility infrastructure to promote local economic development and support social justice.
v. Mitigating the vulnerabilities in the face of climate change
It is within this recognition that the School of Architecture and Building Sciences (SABS) at JKUAT established a Centre for Urban Studies, in partnership with UN-Habitat, to guide in research, training and development of innovative ideas that will help tackle the inherent complex and diverse issues in urban settings.