Social Housing in Cameroon, TAMassociati African masterplan development, Architect design images
Social Housing in Cameroon: 10,000 new units
14 September 2021
TAMassociati and Arup on display in the Italian Pavilion at the Venice Architecture Biennale
Design: TAMassociati with Arup
TAMassociati, Impact Design experts and the former curatorial team of the Italian pavilion in 2016, in Venice, and Arup, the planning, design and consultancy company promotor of a single multidisciplinary approach to the “Total Design” project, present a world preview of a new masterplan: 10,000 new units of Social Housing in Cameroon. A pilot project for future planning throughout the African continent.
Cameroon Social Housing Masterplan
The new project by TAMassociati and Arup, one of the largest urban projects in the history of this African nation, will be exhibited in the section Global South, coordinated by Paola Ruotolo. This area of the exhibition will recount the experiences of Italian architects working alongside the international communities most exposed to climate change and its social consequences.
The “Les Pétales” masterplan, included in the Cameroonian government’s National Social Housing Program, aims to build 10,000 homes and 61 public buildings in six years to respond to the rapid population growth in urban areas and the lack of affordable housing. A pressure that is exploding, with all the related social imbalances, especially around the capital Yaoundé, where the housing shortage is growing steadily.
“The city is seen by millions of people as the only opportunity to improve their living conditions and access a higher level of services (health, education, work …),” explain the TAMassociati and Arup designers. “An expectation that for many remains unfulfilled and translates into a further deterioration in their quality of life. In this context, the problem of housing and access to housing is central.”
The development program is promoted by the Cameroon Ministry of Social Housing (Ministère de l’Habitat et du Développement Urbain – MINDHU), which envisages construction of further social housing projects to reach the goal of 1,000,000 new home units in the medium term across the country.
The masterplan focuses on the pilot project in the vicinity of the city of Mbankomo, 20 km south of Yaoundé, and addresses crucial issues such as mobility, the presence of small businesses and craft workshops, food self-sufficiency, communal uses and family variability. And, obviously, access to the housing market, with a proposed development scheme that reflects the need to retain the original cultural references of the new urban populations.
The main design focus was in fact on the community, capable of self-organizing itself around small and familiar communal spaces, to avoid the eradication of its identity. Many of the morphological solutions adopted previously have failed to take this element into account, though it is crucial to a balanced social and community development.
Care for the quality of the open and built spaces, a concern for infrastructures and construction efficiency are the basis of a design program that aims at social integration, sustainability, a sense of belonging. When fully operational, the new development will be able to accommodate 55,000 people.
The objective of the masterplan is the creation of an authentic city, with a strong identity, balanced in the relationship between natural environment and people and respectful of the cultural heritage of agricultural and the rural origin of the new inhabitants. In the project, the main streets become, in the wake of local traditions, catalysts of urbanity and offer a variety of places to stimulate the local economy and craft activities, while the public buildings are positioned as magnets on the main pedestrian axes to create accessible and visible fronts, which will help promote a steady flow of commuters.
The choices made by the designers are in harmony with the cultural, environmental and morphological context (which is also very complex), with close attention to the criteria for reducing the environmental impact and ecological footprint and triggering energy and resources for improving social spaces and services for the community. In this respect, the natural space will play on a leading part in the project, becoming an element to reconnect and redress the environmental balance between the urban territory and peri-urban areas. Another primary aim will be to provide economic support to the residents, favouring forms of agriculture to support the self-sustenance of the community and the growth of the local trade network.
The whole program envisages a rich outdoor life, favoured by the flexibility, multi-functionality and multi-seasonality of the functions.
The very careful benchmarking with the best continental and European urban planning standards has made it possible to define urban planning facilities (health care, schools, cultural and commercial activities, etc.) that are innovative and closely tailored to the local dimension.
“This project is a great opportunity, because it explores the way to develop a new concept of social housing addressing some of the most urgent contemporary challenges for emerging countries, such as urbanization, social integration, sustainability and placemaking,” conclude the TAMassociati and Arup designers.
This constitutes a very high-level response to the issues related to the urbanization of rural peri-urban areas, and can provide a frame of reference for future planning throughout the African continent.
Photos of the Italian Pavilion by Andrea Avezzù courtesy la Biennale di Venezia
Social Housing in Cameroon by TAMassociati images / information received 140921
Location: Cameroon, West Africa
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