Open Access Journal

ISSN: 2183-7635

Article | Open Access

The Pattern Language Approach as a Bridge Connecting Formal and Informal Urban Planning Practices in Africa

Full Text   PDF (free download)
Views: 1091 | Downloads: 575

Abstract:  This article explores the use of the pattern language approach in bridging the gap between formal and informal urban planning practices in the African context. This study focuses on a case application within the urbanised region encompassing the Nakivubo wetland located in Kampala, Uganda. As in other cities in Africa with a colonial past, Kampala’s planning system signals a profound gap between a technocratic, European paradigms-based type of planning and the everyday practices of citizens. This results in a “dual city,” with formal and informal communities using resources and spaces differently, leading to spatial segregation and non-implementation of urban plans. To overcome this challenge, the pattern language approach is utilised in this research to link formal and informal practices through facilitating meaningful community participation and integrating tacit knowledge into the planning process. To achieve this, the researchers conducted fieldwork and interacted with the local community in informal settlements to develop informal patterns, while analysing the history and current organisation of formal planning institutions in Kampala to formulate formal patterns. The patterns were used as input for a community workshop, which resulted in a pattern language of wetland management practices and a framework that begins to bridge both formal and informal domains of urban practice. By using the pattern language approach as a tool to understand informal practices and their possible incorporation into a planning process that captures the needs of citizens, this research offers relevant insights into achieving sustainable and inclusive urban environments.

Keywords:  community participation; formal practices; Kampala; informal practices; informal settlements; pattern language



Online discussion: Watch the conversation about this article on Let's Talk About

© Priscilla Namwanje, Víctor Muñoz Sanz, Roberto Rocco. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 license (, which permits any use, distribution, and reproduction of the work without further permission provided the original author(s) and source are credited.