Introduction and Rationale

Sustainable urban development is vital in the 21st century because it engages the totality of design, including Architecture, Landscape Architecture, urban design and Urban Planning. 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. There is an increasing need for urban design professionals (in private companies, public agencies at all levels of government, as well as within non-governmental organizations) to tackle various challenges in urban development. It requires excellent planning, design and management, and a collaborative, multi-disciplinary approach. These challenges include the following:

  1. Guiding higher density infill developments in consolidated urban centres
  2. Retrofitting obsolescent suburban developments
  3. Proposing sustainable development at the sprawling metropolitan fringes
  4. Designing basic transportation and mobility infrastructure to promote local economic development and support social justice
  5. Enhancing the role of public space in city development and quality
  6. Mitigating the vulnerabilities in the face of climate change
  7. Promoting social inclusivity in urban governance
  8. Promoting mixed use and social mix that considers the economic, social and environmental components

Significant changes have been seen in how urban growth and development have been managed over the past 30 years. Traditional master plans are making way for more strategic plans and for ‘urban projects’ that improve key sites in metropolitan areas. As cities must deal with the obsolescence of old industrial areas and face growing competition for knowledge workers, their officials and civic leaders recognize the need for high-quality urban and natural environments. They are doing so increasingly in partnerships linking the public and private sectors and with significant public input.

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