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African cities look to China on city building

The massive Kilamba "ghost town," seen here in 2011, is being constructed with Chinese technical assistance in the capital of Angola. Chinese-assisted projects are on the rise in African cites but are being criticized for lacking human scale. (Santa Martha/cc)

Kilamba New City is typical of massive construction projects in China. The countless rows of concrete high-rise blocks look as if they’re straight out of Shanghai or Chongqing, Zachary Edelson writes for Core77. Yet this housing development for 500,000 is located near Luanda, the capital of Angola.

Chinese developers are playing a lead role in the urbanization of Kigali, Lagos, Addis Ababa and other African cities, the article says. “Africans now have a choice between Western and Eastern-driven development and aid,” Edelson writes. As Western nations continue to send aid to combat poverty and disease, China races to profit from construction.

Edelson hints at potential pitfalls. Most of the development is off limits to the three-quarters of African city dwellers in slums. Some of the imported designs have been criticized in China for lacking human scale. And China’s imprimatur often fails to reflect Africa’s cultural and ethnic diversity. A museum exhibition, “Facing East: Chinese Urbanism in Africa,” on display at New York City’s Storefront for Art and Architecture, spotlights China’s outsized role. Core77 describes itself as a gathering point for industrial designers.


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