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The Making of More-Inclusive Public Spaces, or the Search for Public Urban Life in Lilongwe.


Year published: 2021
Categories: Journal Article
URL Link: https://www.trialog-journal.de/en/journals/trialog-138-cultural-space/

Author / Authors:

  • Rebekka Keuss



Given the fact that formal public spaces in Lilongwe appear largely unsuitable for the majority of the population and, as a result, most of the time, remain deserted, this article explores where Lilongwe’s public can be found instead. The underlying assumption here is that public space is mainly determined by the public urban life being lived in a given context, shaped by local cultures, lifestyles, and everyday occurrences, less so by its physical characteristics or functional purpose. Through the lens of Bawo, a mobile board game that is widely played in a variety of settings across Malawi, the author attempts to illustrate how Lilongwe’s inhabitants create and shape public urban life. By tracing public spaces unacknowledged by Lilongwe’s urban planning sector - such as Bawo games - an imbalance between local urban realities and Lilongwe’s planning visions becomes apparent. This article thus attempts to shift planning perspectives closer towards public space designs that are grounded in everyday realities, which requires a distancing from international planning trends.

Trialog - A Journal for Planning and Building in a Global Context #138 “Cultural Space”. Volume editors: Elettra Griesi, Rebekka Keuss and Kosta Mathéy


  • Journal Article