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The alley as an expression of urban form: Understanding the logic of African urban dynamics.


Year published: 2022
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://www.tandfonline.com/eprint/9FRJJVF4YBYXYHPS69JF/full?target=10.1080/07352166.2022.2070496

Author / Authors:

  • Genet Alem
  • Felix Domogalla


Journal of Urban Affairs


Academic discourse has recently opened viewpoints that appreciate the qualities of “African cities” and have called attention to overlooked and neglected knowledge on formative socio-cultural systems. Yet, the scholarly literature falls short on the diversity and specifics of morphological/spatial characteristics and their interplay with spatial practice. We aim to understand factors, which contribute to the contingencies of African cities, by looking at Addis Ababa and Kumasi and the extent to which these factors are shaping their morphology and spatial form. We approach and understand the city through the analysis of the alley/access roads as the smallest constitutive unit to the city. The results show that despite initially similar morphologies, the persisting historical urban cultures and land management regimes influencing the conceived and lived experience of the spaces play out differently. These insights can contribute to a contextualized and nuanced urban planning and development and consciousness of urban heritage.

Keywords: : African cities, morphology, urban development, production of space, Addis Ababa, Kumasi


  • Journal Article