Urban Aesthetic of Lusaka

The Search for an Urban Aesthetic of Lusaka

Xoliswa Kayumba

Lusaka, born in the 1930s in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia), was designed to be ‘generous and spacious’ in the style following, Howard Ebenezer’s, the Garden city concept. The residential separates was accepted as a matter of course and Lusaka was to be an administrative centre and not an industrial town.

As a result of an economic slump in the early years many of the features of the plans were either stalled or removed, however, strict zoning of the layout was a major feature of the layout, together with patterns incorporating crescents, round abouts and diagonals, avoiding the grid iron layout which had characterised earlier established settlements such as Salisbury (Harare). It is from this not so well projected plan with numerous constraints that Lusaka developed and continues to develop almost like a ‘patch work.’

Urbanisation in the twentieth century is a global process into which the third world is increasingly being drawn. Over the last fifty years, expansion of urban populations in Africa, South America and parts of Asia, according to United Nations estimates, is rapid. This growth is not necessarily accompanied by the physical and social infrastructure requirements.

The research seeks to provide an urban analysis of the city of Lusaka by way of field work, data collection, drawing from existing documentation and a method of ‘purposive sampling’ to select the public, commercial and religious buildings. The research questions how the different socio-economic and political periods of governance have influenced the architecture development of the city and the process of urbanisation at large, in Lusaka.

The research hopes to bridge the gap of information of an intertwined and questionably juxtaposed built environment of Lusaka and set discussion on perceptions of the urban fabric. It questions whether the appropriated, imported and inherited aesthetic embraces Zambia’s cultural and environmental context.