r e F R A M E

reFRAME urbanism

Contact Info

ReFrame Urbanism Research Initiative


Office Address

Kampala, Uganda



reFRAME Urbanism

Reframe Urbanism is a research initiative based in the bustling metropolis of Kampala, on a mission to uncover the hidden gems of Africa's vibrant urban landscapes. Our team of passionate researchers and urban enthusiasts is committed to creating innovative solutions that tackle the unique challenges of urbanism in Africa, and we're excited to share our findings with the world. Whether you're a curious urban explorer or a seasoned researcher, we invite you to join us on this journey as we reframe the way we think about living in Africa.

Tactical Urbanism
Urban Acupuncture
Southern Urbanism
The Pattern Language



Restoring Kilembe | reFRAME urbanism


Restoring Kilembe

“Should mining cease, there is little prospect of alternative employment coming to this remote mountain valley. Any future developments would almost certainly be concentrated around the Kasese railhead, leaving peace to descend once again on the valley of the Nyamwamba River .”

The picturesque region of Kasese in Uganda faced unprecedented devastation in May 2013 when heavy rains led to catastrophic flooding, displacing over 7,000 people and damaging existing infrastructure. The recurring floods, exacerbated by historical mining activities and environmental degradation, have taken a heavy toll on Kilembe, a former mining town in the Nyamwamba River valley, nestled at the foothills of the Rwenzori mountain basin on the peripheries of the Congo Basin. The closure of mining operations left the region vulnerable to flooding, destroying homes, schools, and farms.

Various efforts have been made by the government and other organizations to rehabilitate the region through post-disaster management plans. However, it has become increasingly evident that the most viable and sustainable solution is relocating the populations residing in flood-prone areas, which, truthfully, is easier said than done. 

In the quest to address the recurring issue of flooding and stabilise the river bank, experts have put forth a promising solution: the utilisation of Vetiver grass technology. This solution not only offers cost-effective benefits compared to traditional concrete structures but also actively involves local communities in the propagation, planting, and maintenance of Vetiver grass. This community engagement fosters self-reliance, reducing dependence on governmental agencies.

Vetiver grass, with its deep roots and unique leaf structure, proves superior in water management. Planted along riverbanks, it acts as a physical barrier, controlling water during heavy rainfall and reducing erosive power. Its low-maintenance nature makes it an ideal solution, as it requires minimal technicalities and attention. Additionally, this innovative approach has demonstrated its effectiveness in stabilising river banks and shorelines worldwide, showcasing its adaptability and effectiveness in soil erosion control.

The Rwenzori Mountains, home to the Nyamwamba River, offer rich biodiversity and distinct vegetation zones. By restoring grassland species such as elephant grass, Citronella grass, and thatching grass, along with introducing Vetiver grass, the project aims to revive the natural landscape. This not only mitigates future flooding but also enhances the scenic beauty of the Kilembe Valley, creating a potential tourist attraction.

The project responds to the need for a management plan for the Nyamwamba River highlighted in the 2010 report. By reviving dominant grassland species and introducing Vetiver grass, the proposal aligns with the report's recommendation to conserve natural vegetation patches. This contributes to maintaining high species diversity, protecting the environment, and ensuring the sustainable development of the region.

The restoration of Kilembe through Vetiver grass technology not only addresses the immediate issue of flooding but also sets the stage for sustainable tourism and community engagement. By involving local communities in environmental conservation efforts, the project aims to create a resilient and vibrant ecosystem that will benefit both residents and visitors, turning Kilembe into a model for sustainable development in the region.

New (In)Formal | reFRAME urbanism


New (In)Formal

Uganda's capital, Kampala, is dealing with the implications of fast urbanisation and a burgeoning population. A lack of good urban planning has resulted in a slew of issues, particularly in the housing sector, where a severe shortage has caused the spread of informal settlements in wetland regions. This, coupled with poor waste management and the increased risk of flooding due to climate change, highlights the urgent need for sustainable spatial planning practices in Kampala. The New (In)Formal project, led by reFRAME, takes a transformative approach to address these issues by combining formal and informal practices within a strategic framework.

Challenges in Spatial Planning 

 An analysis of Kampala's planning history reveals that the fundamental problem is spatial segregation, derived from the problem with the results of planning, and non-implementation, which is a problem with the planning processes. Despite being inherited from colonial times, these issues create and fuel the conflict between formal and informal practices, which frequently run parallel to one another.

Thus, this project explores how a new strategic framework that combines both formal and informal practices can guide the successful implementation of future spatial plans. The proposal set forth is to test the Pattern Language (PL) methodology as a tool that can be used to combine the practices

Introducing the Pattern Language Methodology: 

The New (In)Formal project explores how a new strategic framework that combines both formal and informal practices can guide the successful implementation of future spatial plans. The proposal set forth is to test the Pattern Language (PL) methodology as a tool that can be used to combine the practices. In line with the PL methodology, the research documents communicate and translate the rules. The outcome is a pattern language of flood resilience practices in the Nakivubo Wetland area, which patterns are then transmitted to the relevant stakeholders through a workshop held between the local residents of the wetland communities and representatives from the formal institutions. This results in the pattern field, which is also the framework that combines formal and informal practices. Lastly, the patterns are translated into design principles that are used to develop a spatial vision for the Nakivubo Wetland area and, through the framework, guide it towards its successful implementation.

The Community Workshop

We were able to hold a community workshop with the inhabitants of the Nakivubo wetland area in the year 2022. This workshop's main goals were to test the patterns developed through community involvement for applicability and to investigate the possibility of using patterns as building blocks to develop a common vision for the Nakivubo Wetland area. Through this exercise, we observed that the patterns that were made from the informal practices were much simpler to explain and understand in comparison to the patterns from the formal practices which were much more abstract. 

As the workshop progressed, it became apparent that the crucial step of translating and explaining the patterns to each participant before the pattern selection would need to be completed, possibly in a separate session. 

Conclusively, The New (In)Formal takes a fresh and transformative approach to spatial planning, tackling the issues posed by growing urbanisation and the proliferation of informal settlements. The initiative aims to strengthen resilience, improve living conditions, and reduce the impact of urban flooding by combining formal and informal practices within a strategic framework. The project has an influence on stakeholders by empowering local residents and encouraging collaboration between formal institutions and informal groups. By adopting this novel method, Kampala may lead the way for long-term urban growth, ensuring a better future for its citizens and the entire community.

Connective Infrastructure | reFRAME urbanism


Connective Infrastructure

Connective Infrastructure is a ground-breaking project in Kampala, Uganda, that aims to bridge territorial, social, and economic divides within the Muyenga-Namuwongo neighbourhood. By creating a system of strategic interventions, the project seeks to connect communities by establishing social and public spaces called "points" and improved pedestrian and transport infrastructure known as "links." The involvement of local residents as co-creators and custodians of these spaces fosters social inclusion, ownership, and a sense of community. The project also revitalizes the neighbourhood’s aesthetics through vibrant designs, urban agriculture, and the transformation of undeveloped land into open public spaces. Additionally, the system's scalability allows it to be used in bigger sizes, fostering a circular economy and encouraging innovation. By embracing this holistic vision, we can create a more connected and inclusive Kampala City driven by the active participation of its residents and sustainable practices. 


As evidenced by the Muyenga-Namuwongo neighbourhood in Kampala, the country's capital and largest city, fragmentation on a geographical, social, and economic level is a problem. Through a system of prompt and cross-cutting interventions, the innovative initiative we've undertaken at reFrame seeks to close these gaps and promote social collaboration. By strategically distributing social and public areas, enhancing pedestrian and transport infrastructure, and promoting community engagement, the Connective Infrastructure project seeks to transform the neighbourhood into a vibrant and sustainable hub.

People: Co-creation of a Sustainable System:

This project is keen on the importance of people in creating and maintaining a secure and sustainable community. Residents become stakeholders by actively participating in creating and sustaining social spaces, promoting social inclusion and a sense of ownership. The concept gives locals the power to control their environment by fostering natural surveillance and encouraging cooperation between stakeholders and city authorities. Additionally, by reducing floods and making it easier to move around the informal settlements, improved drainage and transportation systems increase safety.

Place: Spatial Quality and Placemaking:

One of the project's core objectives is redefining the neighbourhood's identity by enhancing its spatial quality. Eye-catching designs, such as bold and colourful pedestrian bridges, a vibrant food market, and a distinctive train stop, create an inviting gateway to the neighbourhood and improve its aesthetics. Furthermore, the integration of urban agriculture, pedestrian walkways, jogging trails, and seating areas transform the once grey and cold spaces into green and social environments, offering a unique sense of place. Unutilized land is repurposed into open public spaces that accommodate informal economic activities, fostering community synergies and celebrating the neighbourhood’s cultural heritage.

Progress: A Multiscalar System and Circular Economy:

The project's innovative concept can be applied at the neighbourhood level and scaled up to the metropolitan, regional, and even global scales. The system's network of links and points can connect pedestrian walkways within communities or expand to include railway lines connecting institutions across different cities. This scalability extends to various dimensions, including spatial planning and the formulation of political and economic policies. Moreover, the project stimulates the creation of a circular economy by encouraging innovation and resource efficiency. For instance, the Kasanvu Art Gallery showcases recycled art created from waste collected in the area. Improved transport infrastructure facilitates trade and generates synergies across sectors, fostering economic growth.


The transformation of Kampala's Muyenga-Namuwongo neighbourhood through the innovative project described in this article exemplifies a sustainable approach to bridging divisions, empowering communities, and redefining urban spaces. By prioritizing community engagement, spatial quality, and scalable systems, this endeavour enhances the neighbourhood and inspires potential applications at broader scales. As Kampala embraces this holistic vision, it paves the way for a more connected, inclusive, and resilient city, driven by the active participation of its people and the integration of sustainable practices.

To be a leading research initiative that transforms the way Africa's urban landscapes are perceived and designed, by promoting sustainable and innovative solutions that create thriving urban communities. Through a combination of research and design, develop integral strategies working with multidisciplinary teams and stakeholders

Our Vision