Atlas of African Urbanization
PennDesign assistant professor Christopher Marcinkoski, in collaboration with lecturer Javier Arpa, is developing An Atlas of African Urbanization — an exhibition and book project that documents and unpacks no fewer than 50 proposals for new towns and speculative settlement seen across the African continent since the beginnings of the global financial crisis in 2007. While upgrades to urban infrastructure and settlement are urgently needed in many of these contexts, these speculative proposals are rarely oriented toward those populations actually in need. Rather, exogenous models of urbanization are being imported into wholly incongruous contexts with seemingly little regard for the realities of their destination. The interest here is in the political and economic motivations behind these proposals, and the myriad risks — environmental, social and economic — associated with their pursuit. The project builds on professor Marcinkoski’s forthcoming book, The City That Never Was (October 2015, Princeton Architectural Press), which explores the phenomenon of speculative urbanization through the lens of Spain’s early 21st century building boom and bust.