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Aphelele is a Master of Landscape architecture (MLA) student at the University of Cape Town.

Each year students from the Master of Landscape Architecture, and the Master of Urban Design programs, in the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics at the University of Cape Town undertake a design research fieldwork laboratory to another country in sub-Saharan Africa. With calls at UCT to decolonise, these trips aim to both develop knowledge of the transforming urban landscapes of the continent, as well as contribute to their sustainable and equitable development.

In 201 7, students undertook interdisciplinary research in Kampala, Uganda. Fieldwork focussed on examination of Kampala’s wetland network, its “green infrastructure”, a theme that will continue in 201 8 in Addis Ababa. The trip will commence with a visit to the old stone churches carved in the ground in the north, then visit the ancient city of Aksum, followed by a trip overland to Addis Ababa, where a studio project will be undertaken over 5 days with students from the Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development (EiABC).

Two projects will be undertaken:

Sacred Infrastructure, Green Infrastructure Addis Ababa can seem to have little meaningful vegetation in the city. However, the oldest church in Addis (one of the oldest Orthodox Christian churches in the world, mentioned in Acts in the bible), located on a hilltop, was surrounded by beautiful big old trees, which our Ethiopian colleague said was characteristic that many churches shared, making the churches a haven for vegetation. For the MLA project, students will explore “green infrastructure” (multi-functional, connected, green “infrastructure”) using streets between churches to expand vegetation by linking the existing tree populations together, and thereby also improve the street microclimate of the city, using the religious association of a “scared infrastructure” to protect the trees.

Re-Orienting Mass Housing

Addis Ababa has been experiencing huge growth and the government has undertaken a massive housing project, with seemingly endless 8-storey apartment blocks, being built on the edge of the city and its agricultural grasslands. This housing injection is a commendable contribution to improve the standard of living of the city’s inhabitants; however, the street infrastructure and public, and private, landscapes are underdeveloped and lacked hierarchy.

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