click here for the HTML-version.

Conference Invitation

Kayalitsha, Cape Town, South Africa (photo: Christine de Baan)

Nairobi, Kenya (photo: Simone Rots)
Conference Invitation:
“Urban Africa.
New strategies for the world’s fastest urbanizing continent”

April 7, 2015 | 9:30 – 17:00
Auditorium, Het Nieuwe Instituut, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

The International New Town Institute (INTI) has the pleasure of inviting you to the conference “Urban Africa: New strategies for the world’s fastest urbanizing continent”. This international conference will explore the current trajectory of African urbanization with insights from some of the most exciting voices in the field and serve as a platform to begin an open debate. Africa’s population and economic growth make it the world’s fastest urbanizing continent. While some might still associate Africa with rural development, the future of Africa is, in fact, very urban.
Nairobi, Kenya (photo: Simone Rots)

This urbanization is a huge challenge in a continent stricken by poverty and corruption. Many migrants moving to the city end up in self-organized settlements without basic services. One alternative is being offered by developers and investors from countries like China and Korea, who have designed and built new towns in Africa that are modelled after Asian cities. But is this really a proper alternative? Does one size fit all? Or is it a model being copied without considering whether it’s appropriate for Africa?

Edgar Pieterse writes in his recent publication Africa’s Urban Revolution: “As the continent that will be disproportionately shaped by the way in which society thinks about cities, Africa must assume an increasingly central position in the urban imaginary of theorists and practitioners.” African cities should have top-priority on the designer’s agenda. But do they?

Kayalitsha, Cape Town, South Africa (photo: Christine de Baan)

By bringing together speakers from academic, political and design backgrounds, INTI wants to initiate a critical conversation about ‘Urban Africa’ and the western world’s role—if any—in the radical transformations on this continent. What should be on the agenda? What should be the role of the western partners? And what can we expect from the professional community?

For the past year, three teams of South African and Dutch designers have worked together within a project called ‘The Density Syndicate’ to come up with alternatives for the present sprawling urbanization of Cape Town. They explored how a higher density of functions and activities could improve the social, economic and spatial conditions in Cape Town. Their findings will be presented and discussed during the conference. This cooperation is not one way traffic: with Dutch spatial planning changing from integral top down planning to a focus on decentralization and participation, what are the lessons to be learned from Urban Africa?


 Edgar Pieterse (Director African Centre for Cities, Cape Town)
 Lawrence Esho (Technical University of Kenya, Nairobi)
 Ton Dietz (African Studies Centre, Leiden)
 Ronald Wall (Institute for Housing and Urban Management Studies, Rotterdam)
 Khalied Jacobs (Partner Jakupa architects and urban designers)
 Michelle Provoost (Director International New Town Institute)
 Robert van Kats (TBC) (Dasuda)

 Rogier van den Berg (UN Habitat)
 Maarten Hajer (Planbureau voor de Leefomgeving)
 Duzan Doepel (Partner Doepel Strijkers)
 Jason Hilgefort (Land and Civilization Compositions)
 Jandirk Hoekstra (TBC) (Partner h+n+s landschapsarchitecten)
 Harro Wieringa (TBC) (Witteveen+Bos)
 Walter van Dijk (TBC) (Partner NL Architects)
 Christine de Baan (moderator) 

A detailed program and more contributions will be announced on this website soon.


This event aims to attract a broad audience with an interest in African development and urbanization. Including: students from IHS, ASC, Delft University of Technology, University of Amsterdam; designers, architects and planners; policymakers and officials; NGOs and international development agencies.


Urban Africa is an initiative organized by INTI, in cooperation with the African Studies Center, Leiden (ASC), and the Institute for Housing and Urban Development Studies at Erasmus University (IHS).

For this conference and the Density Syndicate, of which it is the result, INTI received generous support from RVO (Rijksdienst Voor Ondernemend Nederland) as well as from the Stimuleringsfonds Creatieve Industrie.


Date: 7 April 2015

Time: 9.30 – 17.00
Location: Het Nieuwe Instituut, Museumpark, Rotterdam, The Netherlands
Language: English

Entrance (including lunch): € 25,00

Students: € 15,00

You can buy your ticket directly at the website of Het Nieuwe Instituut.

For questions or more information, please send an email to