City in Transition – 2013 Projects

Welcome to the final presentation of the City in Transition 2013 course under the Creative Sustainability (CS) masters programme that took place Wednesday the 8th of May at Aalto University, Finlandia room, Lämpömiehenkuja 2, Espoo. This is a short summary of the day, and you can see more photos on the CS Flickr set.

The reality of architecture, building and urban planning, design and economics outside Europe, with cultural understanding as the point of departure.


Lecture by Tapio Kanninen

The afternoon began with talks from Tapio Kanninen, the author of Crisis of Global Sustainability, and Jouni Keronen, head of innovation development at Fortum, describing the big problems of global climate change, suggesting starting points for contributing to change in Tanzania – which is the focus of the City in Transition course – and comparing the financial commitments for renewable energy to those for fossil fuels.

City in Transition 2013 final presentation

Guests included Tim N’Dezi from Centre for Community Initiative in Dar es Salaam, and Emma Nkonoki, and we especially liked the format of the day where the guests could give as many comments they could and teachers of the course would give written feedback later, which well rewarded the intensity of day and the long trips the guests had to make.


Opening lectures followed by a discussion
13.00 Tapio Kanninen, the author of Crisis of Global Sustainability
13.30 Jouni Keronen, head of innovation development at Fortum
Student presentations Slides
14.15 Chamazi PDF
15.15 Coffee break
15.30 Suna PDF
16.10 Mabwepande PDF
16.50 Keko Mwanga 2, Solid waste management PDF
17.30 Short Break
17.40 Keko Machungwa, Sanitation PDF
18.20 Keko Machungwa, Livelihood PDF

Summary of Student presentations


Providing safe housing, and a local marketplace.

The existing masterplan for this area is based on expensive detached houses, and a planned marketplace will be far from the residents. The team’s proposal is for clusters of houses with shared walls to reduce cost, and shared courtyard space, along with commercial and recreational space, most importantly a central marketplace. Expansion through rental apartments is also proposed. A low cost shading system for the marketplace was planned, using sails to allow natural light yet provide waterproofing. This system allows for gradual expansion of the market area.

City in Transition 2013 final presentation

A systemic perspective was shared regarding the development of the marketplace, involving flows of people, information, and finance. Muungano housing cooperative, a local organisation, was proposed to continue the work of the project, and is a central part of the team’s plan, which also focuses on employment and skills.

Low-cost technologies appropriate to the area were introduced, including hay-box cooking, learning landscapes, biogas and bottle-wall building. A community centre is proposed to provide information on these to the residents, along with general information and skills promotion. Detailed information was presented on the suitability of these technologies for use in the area.

The Bottle Wall Simulation Visualization in ANSYS® by Qidi on CS Vimeo account.

Corporate involvement was discussed, focusing on strategic corporate social responsibility.

Download the Chamazi team’s presentation slides.


The idea book for flood-prone communities

The Suna team’s project involved designing ideas for informal settlements to cope with flooding. Their presentation started with a citywide perspective, showing areas most likely to flood, then mapped the social environment and connections between the community, government, services and environmental context. The team suggested a kick-start campaign to clean up the river and show that people have a role to play, then discussed a long-term plan – up to 30 years – involving many stakeholders.

City in Transition 2013 final presentation

They presented a land-use plan with rezoning taking into account the flood plain areas, a water plan and green network to consider groundwater and mitigate flooding, and a plan for public spaces.

Then, a small-scale view was shown of how the area could change over time, showing flexibility of building use, dealing with water and incorporating public spaces. Details were presented, including suggestions for canal use, rainwater collection, and composting . Finally, an architectural and landscape site plan was shown, again involving a mix of commercial, residential and public space, and detailing a flood-adapted home – utilizing existing structures that were previously abandoned due to flooding, and adding a lightweight bamboo shell on top.

Download the Suna team’s presentation slides.


Starting with from nothing

The second team worked on slum resettlement, rethinking an existing government housing project, with the idea that “nothing doesn’t exist” and that possibilities always exist to improve living standards. Their presentation included:

  • Plot development over time, considering sharing of spaces and accommodating existing developments.
  • An incremental housing strategy, an alternative to the “American dream” type housing that they found had been presented to the locals, providing flexiblity for business activities and private space, yet allowing residents to add space to their homes when required.
  • Tree-planting and water harvesting, showing how much food residents could grow for themselves.
  • Sanitation: an urgent need for toilets was demonstrated by the community. Solutions were presented, one that could be immediately implemented, and one longer-term option.
  • Energy use possibilities.

The team also created a booklet, aimed at slum residents and other stakeholders, explaining their concepts and practical ways of starting to make these changes.

City in Transition 2013 final presentation

Download the Mabwepande team’s presentation slides.

Keko Mwanga 2

Solid waste management

This presentation opened with a story, giving insight into the daily life of a waste management worker. The waste problems were then described, along with the municipality’s inability to deal with them, and the lack of respect given to the workers. There followed a question:

How to deal with 1.4 tons of organic waste every day?

The team proposes creating coordinated networks from community, NGOs and public structures.These would focus on raising awareness to both improve waste separation and allow for the sale of organic waste to generate income. This requires knowledge, behaviour change, and changes in relationships. An education/social marketing campaign can provide the required nudge to start these changes. For example, providing uniforms to the workers can give increased visibility in the community and greater pride in the work. Indeed, the workers that the team spoke with were excited about the possibility of having uniforms, and began designing them with the team.

The presentation concluded with a new story – a scenario for 2020 – showing the possibility for improved waste management, increased income and a higher standard of living.

City in Transition 2013 final presentation

Download the Keko Mwanga 2 team’s presentation slides.

Keko Machungwa, Livelihood

Entrepreneurship and product development

This team of “busigners” developed a business plan and a series of product designs with a women’s group in the community. The women’s group’s desires led to the suggestion of a co-operative model; this was later adapted to an NGO model centered around the group, but also involving external stakeholders. This model allows the transfer of various skills from the stakeholders to the central group. A cycle of learning can follow from this.

Design and branding for the group’s products were developed in a manner sensitive to the local situation – materials and possibilities for label-making, along with sales techniques.

Future plans include scaling up the project, and news was shared that the women’s group has already developed their network and has begun adding to their skills.

Tim commenting

Download the Keko Machungwa Livelihood team’s presentation slides.

Keko Machungwa, Sanitation

Sanitation social enterprise

The sanitation group opened with a quite graphic description of how the cycle of waste-food operates using dry toilets, showing how it can have a positive effect on income and nutrition.

Since the people of the area were already familiar with dry toilets, the team worked on scaling up the existing facilities to create business opportunities: construction of toilets, sale of fertiliser and organic vegetables to increase economic activity, improve sanitation, and increase food availability. Marketing plans include theatrical performances, songs and newspaper articles, along with a collection of manuals that the team has produced, providing education on urine, composting, ecological sanitation, water harvesting, hygiene and gray water.

The team showed a plan for public schools, with the compost toilets surrounding an open garden area where the compost can be used directly, and harvested rainwater being fed to the hand washing areas. It is hoped that this project will receive funding for a three-month pilot.

City in Transition 2013 final presentation

Download the Keko Machungwa Sanitation team’s presentation slides.

City in Transition

The City in Transition course is the successor to the City in Crisis course that has been offered since 1993 by the department of architecture in Aalto University with an aim of strengthening the global awareness and social conscience of its students, as well as increasing our understanding of the realities of life and conditions of professional work in developing countries.

Since these things are notoriously difficult to teach in lecture halls and studios, the annual fieldwork period has become an essential part of the teaching and learning process. After a total of ten years in Africa – Rusfisque, Benin and Grand Popo in particular – the course has turned its eyes to the east, and the first group of students traveled to Cambodia at the end of February 2008. Then after a few years in Cambodia, the course has come back to Tanzania now as City in Transition where one of City in Crisis’ alumni Humphrey Alexander Kalanje now resides.

City in Transition is different from its predecessor because it doesn’t only focus on architecture, but expands its focus area to include service design, community building, and social enterprise. The students’ presentations well depicted what they have learnt and what small differences an interdisciplinary design approach can make in various places in Tanzania.

Responsible teachers

Helena Sandman, Sara Lindeman, Taru Niskanen and Johanna Laaksonen

Posted by Creative Sustainability
5 years ago

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