Anam City is a new town along the Niger River Delta under construction in Anambra State, Eastern Nigeria: a community-funded rurban prototype for a population of 30,000 over the next twenty-five years. It was designed between 2009 and 2012 by an interdisciplinary team of architects, urban planners, engineers together with community stakeholders using digital and participatory tools for sustainable development.
Anam City appeared at the Clinton Global Initiative, launching a commitment to advance a novel model for sustainable development in Africa, and has additionally featured at the Smart City Expo (Barcelona) with World Economic Forum case studies, at Archi Afrika in Casablanca and the Harvard University African Development Conference.
Anam City proposes a rurban perspective — urban density combined with rural productive landscape — that considers sustainable development as a coupled problem of hardware and software. Through design we can make better components (hardware) for human settlement with improved integration to landscape systems in Africa. However, optimized performance is equally contingent on developing operating systems (software) in the image of indigenous users, coded to virally exploit extant cultural modalities to modify behavior within networked social ecologies. Such a model of hybridized rural/urban design/build can spread most powerfully as an open-source platform.
The ANAM model defines sustainability according to a treble schema (S-E-T) whereby Sociological, Ecological and Technological parameters form the logic circuit that mediates hardware and software in the rurban context. The Anam City project is the coordinated effort of a single African community to transform by means of available tools both its community hardware (into a new town conceived as an urban-scaled landscape of green infrastructure) and its operating system (into an open-source platform tuned via culturally-embedded social technology). Sustainability thus becomes the pure mandate of viability: similar to the cultural act of survival enacted daily across the continent, and concomitant imperative of affordability, Anam City seeks — experimentally — to sustain a collective initiative that radically changes outcomes by reprocessing existing conditions.
HARDWARE: Derived from traditional landscape practices and induced by environmental constraints, the land use and urban design of Anam City utilize green infrastructure to regulate urban systems and to buffer ecological ones. Infrastructure systems such as solar energy, biological wastewater treatment, biogas generation, and food production are decentralized throughout the city to allow for incremental growth. These systems are progressively networked and scaled for maximum resource efficiency, while techniques of construction utilize local materials, low-carbon install and passive strategies for control of microclimate.
SOFTWARE: Given that the last half-century of advances in intermediate and appropriate technology are largely absent from everyday life in Nigeria, Anam City prioritizes technology transfer first, local capacity-building via social programming second and targeted indigenous innovation third. The goal of the Anam City project is not to reinvent the wheel, but to leverage accessible technology toolkits to help accelerate the Anam community's natural rate of development. The method is to install open technology streams into the community's operating system (social relations and kinship networks, customary governance structures, traditional value register and web of cultural belief systems). Once established, such channels can be shared community-wide and updated or upgraded iteratively. Coding social technologies into the existing ways that people live and work allows for user-driven adoption of new sustainability practices.
The Anam City Master Plan is freely available online; print copies can be ordered on demand. Full project team includes: DK Osseo-Asare, Stacy Passmore, Abena Sackey, Belgin Gulmrü, Ayodeji Akintunde, Dr. John Onyeka, Ismaila Adoke, Cashmond Baker, Samuel Coffie, Isabel Carreras-Baquer, Nuzrat Gyamah-Poku, Sara Jacobs, Quardean Lewis-Allen, Orlena Scoville, Andrew Smith, Julia Strickler, Eric Ansanelli, Jay In, Alex Antobre Seinuah, Ena Sivcevic, Kwame Akoto-Danso, Anthony Nnualue, Donatus Nwanegbo, Anthonia Ngozi Morba, Barthlomew Okonkwo, Michael Nwakonuche, Chioma Obi Ndive, Fidelis Chife, Linus Nnekwe Ifeanyi, Nkiru Onyekwelu, Francis Obiano, Udenna Onyekwelu, Maria Chife, Charles Okoye, Valentine Onyekwelu and Ifeoma Chukwudedelu with Quilian Riano (DSGN AGNC), and Ryan Bollom and Ashley Heeren (LOWDO).