Towards a
New Theory of

Summer Semester 19
Urban (design) theory seminar

Visiting Prof. Dr. Zegeye Cherenet

Building 1, room 208


Monday, 15.04.2019, 2 PM, 10 sessions

Monday, 08.07.2019, 2 PM

AM Ute Vees

In the era of globalization when countries compete for global capital, cities are seen as the places where growth can be achieved at any cost through the means of cheap labor and low environmental standards. Cities as drivers of growth have become the norm in emerging economies in the global South, fueled by the overwhelming power of the market and resulting in a strong income polarization in the population and the emergence of poverty and its spatial equivalent – slums – combined with a division of the society.

Although in less developed or emerging regions such an (intermediate) state is often seen as an inevitable step on the way to a better future, this seminar combined with a lecture series and exercises explores with the means of theory and discourse (alternative) possibilities of urban futures. Sources are the history of urban design and planning as well as contemporary new-town and urban renewal projects. During the seminar, the students will discuss texts and analyze case studies from the past and the present.

(photograph: Jesco Denzel)


Summer Semester 19
Urban design studio
ECTS 12,5 + ECTS 5

Prof. Fabienne Hoelzel, Visiting Prof. Dr. Zegeye Cherenet, AM Ute Vees, LBA Dirk Meiser

Good command of English (written and spoken); willing to work with complexity; willing to work in an intercultural set-up; community spirit.

With Ute Vees, until Friday, 05.04.2019 (we accept a maximum of 6 students)

Attendance mandatory: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 9 AM to 6 PM

Tuesday, 09.04.2019, 4 PM, room 208

09.07.2019, 2 PM, room 208

30.09.–11.10.2019 (travel subsidies available)

AM Ute Vees

As a traditionally rural-agrarian country, Ethiopia’s urban population is roughly 20 percent and thereby one of the lowest in the sub-Saharan region. For centuries, the country remained relatively unaffected by colonialization and globalization. The country’s current social, political, and cultural character is to a large extent defined by its continuous isolation throughout history. Today, as a result of intended industrialization processes and of a significant population growth, the East African country is under substantial urbanization pressure. The authoritarian government reacts with an ambitious yet to be developed program that aims to build up to 8,000 so-called urban rural centers over the coming years and decades. It is challenging without a doubt, and it is exciting – at least for urban designers and planners. One way or the other, Ethiopia faces currently a far-reaching lack of capacities, professionals, and tools to tackle the task. Ethiopia’s current and future challenges can also be seen as a burning mirror of new urban phenomena. However, there is a huge gap between the local academic debates addressing the complexity in the matter and the government’s sort of simplistic “problem-solving” mode.

In the summer semester 2019, under the participation of four Master exchange students of the EiABC Addis Abeba, the region of Zeway, located 170 kilometers south of the capital city, serves as urban-design studio laboratory to think about approaches to rapid urbanization processes in the sub-Saharan world region, where urban growth and rural-to-urban migration lead at a breath-taking to significant transformations at almost every level. Zeway is home to one of largest flower productions in East Africa, owned by a Dutch firm. It has created a lot of jobs but there are a lot of controversies around the related environmental devastation and the destruction of local businesses.

The first third of the studio focuses on tools and strategies of scenario thinking that is understood as a research method investigating possible, desirable, and normative urban futures at the beginning of an urban design process. This first part of the urban design studio will conclude with a 10-day DAAD funded Spring School on the topic of scenario thinking. The Spring School includes an intense 5-day workshop under the participation of 10 Ethiopian PhD and Master students in Bodman at Lake Constance.

The remaining two thirds of the semester concentrate on the urban design implementation of the previously developed strategies. We understand the urban design process itself as continuous and critical research loop. The ongoing and expected processes of rapid urbanization force urban designers, urban planners, and architects to apply new methods and planning strategies. Instead of rolling out classic masterplans there is a high need of a critical, discursive and inclusive urban design thinking. The focus of the studio will be on landscape planning and design as well as on water cycles and management as structuring elements of the urban design proposals. Based on the scenarios of the first studio phase, the students will develop jointly a comprehensive urban design framework strategically implemented with appropriate urban design projects. While the urban design framework is developed by the entire group, the urban design projects will be developed in groups of two students each.

The urban landscape seminar (ECTS 5) is fully integrated into the urban design studio (ECTS 12,5); the students will hence be awarded a total of ECTS 17,5.

It is strongly recommended to attend the seminar “Toward a New Theory of Urbanization” with Visiting Professor Dr. Zegeye Cherenet (Mondays, 2 PM).

(photographs: Fabienne Hoelzel)

African Mobility.
Part 2

Summer Semester 19
Urban research seminar

Prof. Fabienne Hoelzel, Visiting Prof. Dr. Zegeye Cherenet

The students will develop five project proposals, illustrated with drawings, diagrams, and texts.

Max. 10 students from the fields of urban design, industrial design, and communication design

Tuesday, Feb 5, 2019, 2 PM, building 1, room 208

Excursion to Ethiopia: March 17-23, 2019

Monday, April 15, 11 AM – 2 PM, 208 or 119

Presentation of evaluated field work; presentation of preliminary and/or
conceptualized project proposals

Monday, May 13, 11 AM – 2 PM, 208 or 119

Presentation of project proposals

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

ABK Design Department (Industrial Design, Communication Design)

Moovel Lab (subsidiary Daimler AG)
Emerging Cities Lab, EiABC, Addis Abeba

AM Ute Vees

In collaboration with Moovel Lab (subsidiary Daimler AG) and the Emerging Cities Lab, EiABC, Addis Abeba, "African Mobility. Part 2" will develop specific applications and projects, based on the Urban Research Studio "African Mobility. Case Study: Ethiopia" (summer semester 2018).

The current mobility behaviors and the growing comfort requirements in the (Western) urbanized and industrialized regions destroy the livelihoods of human beings, animals, and plants on this planet. For many reasons, these developments have not yet taken place on the African continent, or only to a limited extend. Ethiopia could play an exemplary role in rethinking mobility and urbanity due to its long-term isolation from global mainstream influences, and the various indigenous ways of life. The tradition of walking, the astonishing precision of low-tech modes of transportation, and the use of the street as a shared and public space of coexistence for all kinds of activities turn upside down the – perhaps – core principles of modern societies: time efficiency, economic growth, and competitiveness in all parts of life. What the economically more “developed” regions in this world are striving for – “sustainable” lifestyles and “using”/” sharing” instead of “owning” – has been practiced in many sub-Saharan regions for a long time. Against the backdrop of the environmental devastation of our planet mainly caused by the ever-increasing consumption of natural resources, notions of seeming backwardness might turn into perceptions of progressiveness.

Based on the above-mentioned insights, an interdisciplinary group of students from the fields of urban design, industrial design, and communication design will take the gained knowledge to the next level. The goal is to develop five application-oriented proposals for Ethiopian and/or sub-Saharan cities. Such project proposals should recognize the enormous potential of today’s practiced mobility traditions by simultaneously addressing the gaps. Among the latter might be the lack of security, long queues, confusing timetables, vague routes, unclear hope-on places and stops, among others.

Another goal is the investigation of how informality can be combined strategically with digitization. Just because something is digital it does not mean that it’s good or progressive. The task is hence to understand the potential intersection of existing low-tech mechanisms and future digital applications, focusing on how the best of traditional habits and the best of yet-to-come digital possibilities can meet to address the mobility challenges of today and tomorrow.

Future mobility solutions will most probably have to emphasize on the strategy, for instance how to more seamlessly integrate with the informal system. Big infrastructure-investment based mobility is in many cases not the way to go. As in many other aspects of urban design and planning, it is not about mobility as such but about access to mobility.

On a more global perspective it is obvious that sub-Saharan-African cities might play a crucial role in avoiding carbon emissions. In doing so, the Western world could learn from existing and future mobility approaches developed in Africa. However, the current mobility culture of African cities is predominantly influenced by Chinese-Asian and/or Western European influence. In that perspective, the future mobility culture would also be influenced by Chinese-Asian and/or Western approaches. Having said that, Africa South of the Sahara, the world region with the highest urbanization rate will need to have the courage, creativity and the vigor to develop its own mobility concepts, beyond road construction and motorized private transport. Already implemented transportation solutions according to western (and seemingly "progressive" role models) lead currently to a massively increased motorization with all the known downsides such as the emission of polluting and harmful greenhouse gases. The fast-growing number of private vehicles puts a strain on infrastructure, which in turn affects the daily life of millions of people and leads to a high number of traffic victims.

There are good examples in place, often rooted in decades-old traditions and cultures, including so-called "sharing concepts" as well as the traditional mini-buses, a fascinating system of individual entrepreneurs and semi-formalized drivers’ associations. In that sense, public transportation in sub-Saharan Africa is mostly “informal” and should hence be renamed in popular transportation. These good and old approaches deserve a closer look, must be brought to the center, and must be made nationwide. The “solution” to the “African transport problem” might already exist, although flawed and finding its expression in the lack of security, long queues, insufficient modal split, confusing timetables, vague routes, unclear hope-on places and stops (as already mentioned above). The goal of the project is to conceptually recognize the strength and the beauty of the (self-organized) African mobility logics, identifying the “flaws”, and come up with “missing link” to make the the already good practices in place readable as potentially vanguard approaches.

(photograph: Fabienne Hoelzel)

Urban Africa.

Summer Semester 19
DAAD Spring School

– Letter of motivation (1 page);
– Compelling portfolio with 1 to 3 projects (max. 10 pages and 10 MB);
– Short CV (max 2 pages);
– Two letters of recommendation from current or recent professors/supervisors/tutors (max. 1 page each)

Applications via email, attn. Ms. Ute Vees:

The stipend is 1,000 Euros per person and for a trip of twelve days. Depending on individual flight costs and personal expenses the total amount of costs can fully or partially be covered by the stipend.
All costs must be paid upfront by the grant holder. Expenses up to the maximum of 1,000 EUR will be refunded upon arrival in Germany (original receipts mandatory!).

– Max. 10 students;
– Enrolled as PhD/Master students at an Ethiopian university;
– Registered at the departments/faculties of architecture, urban design, urbanism, urban planning or landscape architecture of the respective university;
– Able to understand and willing to work/study complexity;
– Excellent skills in graphic representation and visualization;
– Fluent in English (spoken and written).

Urban Africa. Scenario Thinking in the Context of Rapid Urbanization: Tools and Strategies

Urban growth and rural-to-urban migration at a breath-taking speed in sub-Sahara Africa lead to significant transformations at almost every level. The ongoing and expected processes of rapid urbanization force urban designers, urban planners, and architects to apply new methods and planning strategies. Instead of rolling out classic masterplans there is a high need of a critical, discursive and inclusive urban design thinking to implement and manage the processes that will guide the upcoming transformation.

Since urban planning refers to the future, forecasts, projections and trends serve as a basis for designing cities. Strategic planning explores possible future developments by creating visions and formulating objectives under the consideration of complex correlations often of the field of urban design and planning. In order to design strategies for emerging urban centers appropriate methods are needed. Scenario thinking understood as a research method investigates at the beginning of an urban design process possible, desirable, and normative urban futures.

The Spring School » Urban Africa. Scenario Thinking in the Context of Rapid Urbanization: Tools and Strategies « will investigate and apply tools and strategies of scenario thinking in the field of urban design and planning. Students will attend lectures from academics and professionals from different fields such as climate-responsive design, landscape planning, scenario thinking, actor-based design, and modelling, among other, in order to develop their own scenarios in mixed groups with PhD and Master students from Ethiopia and Germany. Visions and scenarios developed in diagrams, maps, plans, and pictures will be presented to and discussed with experts at the end of the spring school. Case studies are emerging towns in Ethiopia.

The international group of students will discover the unique atmosphere of the Stuttgart State Academy of Art and Design, explore the city of Stuttgart, and work in concentrated atmosphere in the lake Constance region.

The Spring School aims to prepare future professionals for the complex tasks in the field of urban design and city planning against the backdrop of rapid urbanization. The latter includes issues such as population growth, equitable distribution of and access to infrastructure and natural resources as well as the mitigation of the impacts of the expected climate change.

Schedule and deadlines:

07 January 2019, 12 PM (noon), CET
Publication of call for applications

28 January 2019
Application deadline

04 February 2019
Selection and notification of successful scholarship recipients

04 February 2019
Application for visa to Germany/travel preparations

22 April 2019
Outbound flight to Germany

23 April 2019
Start of Spring School

03 May 2019
End of Spring School

04 May 2019
Return flight to Ethiopia