r e F R A M E

reFRAME urbanism

Contact Info

ReFrame Urbanism Research Initiative

reframe.researchinitiative@gmail.com

Office Address

Kampala, Uganda

New (In)Formal

Embracing a New Paradigm

Leveraging Formal and Informal practices towards the just, resilient and sustainable urban development of Kampala

Embracing a New Paradigm

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.

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