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A smart future for a rapidly urbanising Africa: sustainable integrated approaches for the built environment

Guest Editors

Dr. Wafaa Nadim, [email protected]
Prof. Jack Goulding, [email protected]

Since the start of the sustainable development movement in the early 1960’s, conventions and summits took place and protocols were initiated to address environmental degradation and overcome the challenges of resource scarcity and anthropogenic climate change, while improving quality of life for the poor. In practice these have had little or no effect; and if emissions continue to grow at the current pace, Africa will be one of the regions hardest hit by climate change.

Africa - a landmass of around 30 million km2 and arguably the world’s poorest and most underdeveloped region - is experiencing some of the fastest urbanisation rates in the world. These range from around 2.5% in Northern and Southern Africa to around 4% in West, Central, and East Africa. Currently, about 40% of the continent’s one billion people live in urban areas with the anticipation of this to exceed 1.2 billion by 2050. In addition, the diverse cultural and socio-economic characteristics of African nations represent a challenging proposition for cross-national collaborative efforts as a means to overcome scarcity of resources and adapt to environmental changes. As the global economy continues to contract, Africa can no longer rely on external assistance. There is a pressing need for sufficient collective knowledge and adequate home-grown measures to reduce poverty, manage the activities that contribute to climate change; and furthermore, adapt to the changes that have been already set in motion.
The key for a smart future in Africa lies in turning the challenges of anticipated crises into opportunities for developing African cities that are thriving and productive, thus providing a decent quality of life to their citizens.  This may require that Africa finds its own models of urbanisation which draw on both 21st century technology and its rich cultural strengths – resilience, ingenuity, collective effort, humility and compassion.


This special issue aims to identify visionary integrated approaches for achieving a sustainable built environment in Africa. These approaches should address the clear challenges of the present and the future, are smart and appropriate to Africa’s diverse context, have a clear contribution to knowledge, and demonstrate strong potential for practical implementation. Suggested topics include but are not limited to the following:
- Designing for a thriving world
- Urban resilience
- Integrated planning and implementation policies
- Affordable, adaptable, and scalable housing with potential inclusion of the live-work concept
- All-inclusive eco-mobility within and around buildings
- Energy efficiency in new and existing buildings
- Integration of new/alternative energy technologies on urban and architectural scale
- Innovative local material, building, and construction technologies
- Recycling and efficient resource management
- Water and grey-water efficient use in buildings and urban communities
- Models of cost and value
- Redesigning assessment systems and  the regulatory environment
- Cultural challenges and adaptation to a changing environment
- A new built environment curriculum encompassing interdisciplinary education and capacity buildingOriginal contributions addressing collaborative efforts between African nations to achieve sustainable built environment are highly encouraged.

Important dates and publication timeline

Deadline for first submission: 19 October 2015
Review: ongoing until 1 February 2016
Submission of final papers by:  14 March 2016
Publication: June 2016

Paper submission

Comprehensive instructions on how to submit a paper, including full manuscript requirements and the journal’s editorial criteria, can be found in the author guidelines. For further information on please visit the journal web page:   

For further inquiries or to submit abstracts please contact the following guest editors:

Dr. Wafaa Nadim
[email protected]

Architecture and Urban Design Programme
The German University in Cairo (GUC)
New Cairo City
Main Entrance El Tagamoa El Khames,
Hotline: 16482, ext: 1365
Tel: +202 27589990-8
Fax: +202 2758

Prof.  Jack Goulding
[email protected]

The Grenfell-Baines School of Architecture, Construction and Environment
University of Central Lancashire
Preston, PR1 2HE
United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0) 1772 894213