Transformations in architecture and urbanism of cities in the Global South

Ashraf M. Salama* (Editor), David Grierson (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalSpecial issuepeer-review


The nations of Africa, Central and Latin America, and most of Asia are collectively known as the Global South, which includes practically 157 of a total of 184 recognized states in the world according to United Nations reports. Metaphorically, it can be argued that most of the efforts in architectural production, city planning, place making, place management, and urban development are taking place in the Global South and will continue to be so over the next several decades. While many cities and settlements in the Global South have less developed or severely limited resources, others are growing and flourishing. Although they share similarities in terms of social, economic, and environmental challenges, it is increasingly evident that these challenges offer real opportunities for development and growth. Political turmoil, social disorder, and economic upheaval are predominant in many of the cities and settlements in the Global South. Yet, it is widely acknowledged that their societies, emerging markets, transnational practices are viewed as growth prospects which are continuously manifested in material culture, architecture, and urbanism. Within the new world order cities and settlements in the Global South have experienced dramatic transformations that instigated critical questions about regenerating and retrofitting cities, international connectivity, international attractiveness, changing housing dynamics, and the quality of urban life, among other emerging issues resulting from rapid urban development processes. The preceding milieu calls for the importance of depicting and capturing architectural and place production of the Global South while portraying it to the academic and professional community. As part of the activities of the ‘Cluster for Research in Architecture and Urbanism of Cities in the Global South (CRAUCGS) which was established in 2014 within the Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, this issue of Open House International addresses contexts in Africa, South America, South East Asia, and the MENA (Middle East & North African) region highlighting various developmental aspects. It includes research contributions on architecture and urbanism as they relate to housing environments comprising socially integrated housing (Chile), housing typological transformations (Senegal), mega projects and housing development (the Gulf Region), transformations in housing patterns (India), and the changing housing styles in Kathmandu Valley (Nepal). Urban qualities, livability and capitalist urbanism are addressed in the context of Freetown in Sierra Leone, Kuala Lumpur in Maaysia, and several Middle Eastern Cities. The role of planning in maintaining or degrading urban memory is addressed in the context of Cairo (Egypt). Other important contributions include various aspects of sustainability at the building scale (Iran) and at the level of user attitudes (Northern Cyprus). Beatriz Maturana and Ralph Horne examine the issue of social integration as part of the contemporary urban policy in Chile by analysing two socially integrated housing developments. By introducing the notion of conviviality their work raises critical questions for the implementation of national policy objectives to combat the segregation of cities. In the context of Dakar, Senegal, Emilie Pinard examines the transformation of the housing typology in informal neighbourhoods on the periphery of the city. By documenting the spatial logics and factors guiding the construction of new multi-storey houses, which are significantly transforming the landscape of the city, her work offers implications for housing policies and programmes. The work of Fodei M. Conteh and Derya Oktay presents an attempt at measuring liveability of a vibrant but overcrowded street in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and how its everyday environment works. Employing a mixed-method strategy that involves observations and interviews their work reveals that an overcrowded street space has a negative effect on the liveability and quality of urban life. In the context of the urban evolution of Cairo, Egypt, Gehan Selim offers a critical argument on how unresponsive planning practices adopted by municipalities and governments create wounds and scars in the public realm and thereby negatively influencing the memory of a city. On a different level of investigation Buket Asilsoy and Derya Oktay examine ecological citizenship in the context of Famagusta, Northern Cyprus by conducting an attitude survey of residents. The outcomes offer insights toward understanding the level of residents’ environmental worldview that may contribute to the shaping of policies relevant to sustainable planning and design. The context of the Middle East is examined in three papers selected to demonstrate different scales and disciplinary perspectives. At a geographical scale the work of M. Gamal Abdelmonem questions globalization, capitalism, neoliberal ideology and the resulting urban visions and policies manifested both in narratives and the physical environment of new centres and districts in Cairo, Beirut and emerging cities in the Gulf Region. Abdelmonem’s work concludes by arguing that the lack of the necessary hierarchy of socio-spatial systems of these cities present irrevocable urban problems. At a regional scale within the Gulf Region, Wiedmann, Salama, and Ibrahim examines the emerging housing typologies and their role in redefining urban development processes. Utilising cases from the Jumeirah District in Dubai and based on official planning documents and preliminary field observation their work identifies housing development tendencies and highlight key urban planning implications. Malek and Grierson address the absence of a national framework with respect to sustainable development in Iran. Taking into account the contextual particularities of the context and building on relevant tools developed in other contexts Malek and Grierson offer a framework that will inform the development of a context-based tool while integrating Iran’s current climate change adaptation policies and priorities. The Asian perspective is represented, in part, in three papers. Discussing the transformation in lifestyles, the work of Smita Khan and Archana Bele is based in Nagpur. It adopts a qualitative approach that encompasses examining morphological maps, non-participatory observation, and photo documentation. Their work presents a comparative analysis of three residential neighbourhoods and concludes with an argument that advocates people centricity as an imperative for sustainability. Examining the changing housing styles in the Kathmandu Valley – Nepal, Vibha Bhattarai-Upadhyay and Urmi Sengupta engage in a discussion that cuts across space, time, and meaning of architecture in order to deconstruct and juxtapose tradition and modernity as represented in culture and built form. Based on qualitative inquiry the work of Norsidah Ujang delves into examining the relationship between urbanities and historical urban places in the context of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Offering key insights Ujang discusses the way in which such places shape the perception, emotion, and memory of the urbanites, and concludes by identifying challenges relevant to integrating the preservation of place identity into the complexity of the physical environment and the urban life. It is clearly evident that the discourse and research findings on architecture and urbanism in the Global South that are discussed in this issue of Open House International, have gone beyond portraying this part of the world within either post-colonial urban struggle or slum challenges. In essence, the Global south offers a rich soil for debating and researching challenging and pressing issues that present themselves as timely topics on the map academic and professional interests and as important material for further inquiry and examination. The 11 contributions by 19 scholars manifest the diverse and challenging issues facing buildings, settlements, and cities of the Global South while conceiving potential solutions for addressing those challenges. Acknowledgement: As guest editors of this special issue, we would like to acknowledge the resources and support offered by the Department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde toward developing this volume. Thanks are due to the reviewers and contributors for their valuable work throughout the peer review process. Guest Editors: Ashraf M. Salama and David GriersonDepartment of Architecture University of Strathclyde, Glasgow G1 1XJ, United Kingdom [email protected] [email protected]
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-101
Number of pages101
JournalOpen House International
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes


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