Making Windhoek a more liveable environment

After living and working as an architect and urban planner in Hong Kong for a decade, Stephanie Roland, a lecturer at the Department of Architecture and Spatial Planning, took a keen interest in the vast difference in the built environment of that Asian city and Windhoek.

This prompted Roland to conduct research titled ‘A Living City for Everyone,’ which aims to understand issues affecting Windhoek’s inner city, specifically focusing on the lack of density and walkability. She presented her paper at the Faculty of Natural Resources and Spatial Sciences Research Day that was held earlier this semester. Roland recently answered some questions during an interview with Helena Fudheni, a Bachelor of Communications student at NUST.

Q. What is your research mostly focused on?
A. It is about understanding how the urban morphology in Windhoek has evolved, and how regulations, political systems and technological advances have affected and shaped the city. The research looked at making Windhoek a more liveable environment. The project is in line with a Memorandum of Understanding between the City of Windhoek and NUST, which seeks to guide the municipality in their regulatory framework development and urban design guidelines.

Q. What lessons can Windhoek draw from Hong Kong?
A. Hong Kong is very robust and every inch of space is used by its citizens, who spend most of their free time exploring this bustling city. The place is an extension of their living rooms, a place where neighbours socialise, communities are formed and children are raised. This creates a vibrancy and social connectedness that gives rise to many opportunities for the residents. Contrast to this, Windhoek as a city actively discourages interaction between its people by creating cellular suburbs and far-flung areas that are only accessible via private transport.

Q. How can this situation be remedied?
A. The current planning regulations actively exacerbate the problem. Single-use zoning is the regulatory framework by which cities are planned and expanded in Namibia – this creates mono-functional and sterile areas, separating housing from shops and workplaces. On the contrary, the mixed-use densification, which would be the ideal framework, focusses on creating great streets and public spaces to allow mono-functional areas of a city to develop into denser, more sustainable neighbourhoods. The mixed-use densification also enables planners to focus on designing for a variety of economies of scale, allowing people of different income groups to co-exist and give rise to opportunities that are created by this adjacency. Furthermore, in a country with limited resources like Namibia, locating amenities like schools and hospitals centrally, makes more logical sense.

Date: 
Friday, May 10, 2019
for Month: 
May, 2019

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