Project Duration
May 2016 - May 2020
PhD Candidate
Rachel Keeton
Wouter Vanstiphout and Han Meyer
Daily Supervisor
Steffen Nijhuis
The International New Town Institute and Delft Global Initiative

Making the Adaptive African New Town

PhD research by Rachel Keeton


As economic growth spreads, there is a concurrent trend towards lower densities, increasing reliance on car-based mobility, and lifestyle changes that do not reflect an inclusive society. Over the last decade, this trend has become more visible in emerging economies. Especially the African continent—as economic growth fuels urban expansion—has seen an explosion of private urban development.

Faced with overwhelming housing deficits, a lack of capacity and financial limitations, contemporary African governments increasingly relinquish large-scale urban development projects to the private sector. The resulting New Towns are often developed with a single, myopic target: short term financial profit. As a result, they are neither inclusive nor ecologically sustainable.

Using an integrated approach that envisions symbiotic operative landscape infrastructures rather than divorced layers, this research provides a transdisciplinary roadmap for inclusive, sustainable, future African new towns in the form of a series of planning principles with potential for real world application. This set of planning principles will be specific to new towns as an urban form, but general enough to be applied across the varied and diverse African continent. By identifying the shortcomings of contemporary practice and proposing new potentials, this set of principles will show how African New Town planning can be improved to be more inclusive, ecologically sustainable, and as a result, adaptive over the long term.