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"Rome was not built in a day", a reminder that the European cities we look up to have undergone layers upon layers of urban growth, development, regeneration, uplifts, remodeling, and bold decisions by certain historical figures to alter or preserve them. The majority of these cities have undergone several architectural periods in the European architectural specific periods, from the medieval to high renaissance and beyond. They have had to enjoy the advantage of time and age. From the Italian cities to the French Capital's Champs-Élysées and many more European Cities.

Kigali is relatively a very young city. Luckily enough, the Kigali Masterplan and the vision set for the city are quite remarkable, to say the least giving a breath of life into the future prospects of the city and its growth and planning. It is a nudge in the right direction unlike other African cities with outdated and obsolete masterplans still set by the colonial powers with their growth periods already expired. We might not see the unique Afrocentric character of Kigali being set in the present, but we can all agree that an extraordinary Afro-futurist city is developing right in front of our eyes.
 

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Prototype of an affordable green building in a slum area

Nyarugenge | Prototype 1 | ??

We are very excited to share a project we’ve been working on in Kigali, Rwanda. This two-storey prototype is the first step to a larger, socially and environmentally sustainable development. Located in the informal neighbourhood of Rwezamenyo, the project carefully integrates the existing social fabric, is a catalyst for economic activity, and is aiming for the Living Building Challenge standard.


 

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I live in Europe, we may have different standards and expectations...
To me these projects are relatively comparable to what we can find here in term of functional and formal approach.

Appearance is not equal to sustainability...
You demolish buildings that need to be demolished not the ones that bother your esthetic sensibility a little bit much...

I also don't expect universities to generate that kind of tourism...

In France we have many visually terrible public buildings that went through maintenance and also visual refurbishment, many of our universities are ugly, but at least they produce a sizeable amount of brains... Because that's the purpose of these buildings in the first place... Let's not forget that...

Rwanda seems to be aiming at sustainability and local sourcing construction materials which I find great.

If you contextualize all of this, these architectural projects are more than decent... Imo

I agree that the tower renders are not terrible, but won't be surprised if this building turns out to be way better.
Sometimes renders undersell projects, I use my imagination to compensate the bad quality of visuals...

I'm wondering what good architecture is to you however.
I don't think you understood meet well. I have nothing against those buildings. I'm simply saying it's better to build something you will use for long than something you 'may" have to break down one day.

My point can be likened to what is happening with the roads in the central business district now.
The roads have been broken to give way for restructuring, right?
My point is, thesame thing may happen with some of the buildings under construction if their architecture is mediocre.
Speaking about money, its actually more costly to build, demolish and rebuild as they are doing with the roads.
 

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"Rome was not built in a day", a reminder that the European cities we look up to have undergone layers upon layers of urban growth, development, regeneration, uplifts, remodeling, and bold decisions by certain historical figures to alter or preserve them. The majority of these cities have undergone several architectural periods in the European architectural specific periods, from the medieval to high renaissance and beyond. They have had to enjoy the advantage of time and age. From the Italian cities to the French Capital's Champs-Élysées and many more European Cities.

Kigali is relatively a very young city. Luckily enough, the Kigali Masterplan and the vision set for the city are quite remarkable, to say the least giving a breath of life into the future prospects of the city and its growth and planning. It is a nudge in the right direction unlike other African cities with outdated and obsolete masterplans still set by the colonial powers with their growth periods already expired. We might not see the unique Afrocentric character of Kigali being set in the present, but we can all agree that an extraordinary Afro-futurist city is developing right in front of our eyes.
I agree. Kigali has made remarkable progress over the past 20years.

I'm glad the first master plan was ditched. They should choose a different city which can be covered in skyscrapers, but Kigali, I pray they continue with how they are building Kigali; Not very tall buildings, green environment, mixed use buildings etc. Jusr simple, clean, green and quiet.
 

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Skyscrapers have their place in every modern city, (especially in the so-called Singapore of Africa) they just have to be done right. Not as fenced off Islands like in Dubai, but integrated into the city with ground level attractions and walkability.

I like how European cities do it with a Skyscraper district in one part of the city, la defense in Paris for example, while other parts of the city make use of vertical space.
 

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Skyscrapers have their place in every modern city, (especially in the so-called Singapore of Africa) they just have to be done right. Not as fenced-off Islands as in Dubai, but integrated into the city with ground-level attractions and walkability.

I like how European cities do it with a Skyscraper district in one part of the city, la defense in Paris for example, while other parts of the city make use of vertical space.
Well said. The integration of the skyscrapers and the natural growth of the city should be seamless and has to feel as organic as possible. The Dubai disconnect is nauseating to a degree where a sharp distinction and discontinuity are visibly seen. Human scale and their integral part in a city are what makes or breaks a city. New York is a good example of how the skyscrapers are considerate to the human street scale and interractions.
 

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Well said. The integration of the skyscrapers and the natural growth of the city should be seamless and has to feel as organic as possible. The Dubai disconnect is nauseating to a degree where a sharp distinction and discontinuity are visibly seen. Human scale and their integral part in a city are what makes or breaks a city. New York is a good example of how the skyscrapers are considerate to the human street scale and interractions.
I think your description fits with the first master plan.
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Personally, I love the second one. It emphasizes on mixed use green buildings. I don't even see any skyscrapers there.

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Well said. The integration of the skyscrapers and the natural growth of the city should be seamless and has to feel as organic as possible. The Dubai disconnect is nauseating to a degree where a sharp distinction and discontinuity are visibly seen. Human scale and their integral part in a city are what makes or breaks a city. New York is a good example of how the skyscrapers are considerate to the human street scale and interractions.
Bingo, especially Times Square. It's so pleasant to walk around there because it is the perfect combination of vertical space (the skyscrapers) and horizontal walkability with all the ground level restaurants, etc. Would be a dream to see something like that in Kigali.
 

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I think your description fits with the first master plan.
View attachment 1368752 View attachment 1368756


Personally, I love the second one. It emphasizes on mixed use green buildings. I don't even see any skyscrapers there.

View attachment 1368777 View attachment 1368779
The city should definitely be taller than the second picture by 2050. Rwanda has a population of 12.5 million, most of whom are subsistence farmers. But when the economy improves, these people will eventually start flooding into Kigali, creating urban sprawl if the city doesn't build taller. An atavistic hatred of tall buildings is a luxury Kigali probably can't afford, given its geographic situation.
Remember, Europe can maintain its relatively low-rise city centers because they push high density buildings to the outskirts of the city, while the United States has basically limitless land to waste on single family homes. The challenge of Kigali's masterplan will to incorporate skyscrapers into a beautiful and walkable city environment.
 

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I remember one time I estimated from demographic projections that Rwanda could be as dense as NYC metro area by the end of the century. But I dont know if these productions still apply.

However Rwanda will remain one of the most densely populated nations of Africa.
Compact cities will clearly be needed at some point. Many European cities managed to maintain high density levels in low rises (see Barcelona and Paris) but the problematic part is that these low rises appartements are very small... The pressure on these old buildings is high.

I feel like New York has sort of the same problem. They did not built the necessary programs, and a huge part of the island is a gap of older lower rises buildings where I suppose appartements may be quite small ... Seeing NY prices this is my hypothesis...

On the other hand Singapore has chosen to build more high rises and many are well kept social housing programs accessible to the greater number. It may feel less attractive and vibrant than NYC... But it generates less misery I suppose...

About la défense by the way, interresting project, very walkable since cars and pedestrians are separated by "la dalle", huge transport hub, but like canary wharf LD is mostly composed of offices towers.
 

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green row houses

Gasabo | NEST housing project | design stage

ASA has been requested to develop a 7 units project taking advantage of the slope and the beautiful view of the city.

[...] ASA's aim with this project is to achieve the highest green building compliance score, minding orientation, cross ventilation, integration of solar systems and using sustainable practices in construction.



 

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However Rwanda will remain one of the most densely populated nations of Africa.
Compact cities will clearly be needed at some point. Many European cities managed to maintain high density levels in low rises (see Barcelona and Paris) but the problematic part is that these low rises appartements are very small... The pressure on these old buildings is high.
Not necessarily, these cities have been built for a certain number of occupants. Their attractiveness combined with real estate speculation meant that these buildings were cut into small pieces and sold or rented at usurer levels. It is quite possible to have a high density without the apartments being rabbit cages.


The city should definitely be taller than the second picture by 2050. Rwanda has a population of 12.5 million, most of whom are subsistence farmers. But when the economy improves, these people will eventually start flooding into Kigali, creating urban sprawl if the city doesn't build taller. An atavistic hatred of tall buildings is a luxury Kigali probably can't afford, given its geographic situation.
Remember, Europe can maintain its relatively low-rise city centers because they push high density buildings to the outskirts of the city, while the United States has basically limitless land to waste on single family homes. The challenge of Kigali's masterplan will to incorporate skyscrapers into a beautiful and walkable city environment.
I don't think building towers is a good idea. Poeple who actually love living in highrises are a minority (less that 10% in Vancouver for eg). Multiple surveys have shown that most people don't mind density as long as it still has a human scale and a small city feel. An avg of 4 storeys high and a Max of 6 to 8 floors.
The 2013 Kigali masterplan called for a 43% of Kigali's district land to be used for urbanisation. And the target in the worst case scenario being an average of 16000 hab/km² for the whole city . The most dense area having an avg of 30k hab/km² (eg. Paris intra-muros is 20k). That means a city of roughly 5 million people
The current situation ranges between 3000 hab/km² for the single house planned neighboorhoods and 25000 hab/km² in the unplanned neighboorhood.
Bear in mind the the informal neighboorhoods are single storey.

So what does a 16000 hab/km² density look when done with intelligence.

EG n°1 VAUBAN FREIBURG 13650hab/km²

This new neighboorhood sits on 41 ha of land and has a population of 5634 hab.
The avg living space in an appartement is 32.9 sqm/pers. A family of 5 have would have a 165 sqm dwelling which is more than enough.
Most buildings are 3 or 4 storeys high with a lot of green spaces. Double the height and you theorically reach 27000 hab/km² easily. So making a 6 storey building here and there would help reach the target.






One way to acheive this is by reducing the space allocated to cars. Might sound extreme, but some of the reasons families don't like dense cityliving is the lack of green space, a safe space for their child to play outside and the noise and pollution of cities.


EG n°2 IJBURG, currently 10088 hab/km²

If you find the no car too extreme, this project sits on a 150.6 ha and once finished will house roughly 19000 hab. (extrapolated number 7062 dwellings x 2.8 (avg residents per dwelling)
It's mostly midrise buildings with row houses and detached single family floating houses.
Once finished, the density will be around 13000 hab/km²





Obviously the decrease in density come from the wide streets alocated to the cars. Nevertheless it still achieves a good level of density. Similar to vauban, increasing the height here and there can help acheive the target
If you have 25min of freetime, here's a video of a guy walking in the most dense part of the neighborhood.
The area doesn't feel cramped and claustrophobic at all IMO.


EG n°3 Hammerby Sjôstad 15000hab/km²

This one might help to better visualise what a 160 hab/ha looks like.
You double the height and you reach the most dense area targets (30k/km²). Giant alienating towers are not necessary to house a lot of poeple. These are examples where you can reach the goals while housing poeple with dignity and comfort.







 

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Not necessarily, these cities have been built for a certain number of occupants. Their attractiveness combined with real estate speculation meant that these buildings were cut into small pieces and sold or rented at usurer levels. It is quite possible to have a high density without the apartments being rabbit cages.




I don't think building towers is a good idea. Poeple who actually love living in highrises are a minority (less that 10% in Vancouver for eg). Multiple surveys have shown that most people don't mind density as long as it still has a human scale and a small city feel. An avg of 4 storeys high and a Max of 6 to 8 floors.
The 2013 Kigali masterplan called for a 43% of Kigali's district land to be used for urbanisation. And the target in the worst case scenario being an average of 16000 hab/km² for the whole city . The most dense area having an avg of 30k hab/km² (eg. Paris intra-muros is 20k). That means a city of roughly 5 million people
The current situation ranges between 3000 hab/km² for the single house planned neighboorhoods and 25000 hab/km² in the unplanned neighboorhood.
Bear in mind the the informal neighboorhoods are single storey.

So what does a 16000 hab/km² density look when done with intelligence.

EG n°1 VAUBAN FREIBURG 13650hab/km²

This new neighboorhood sits on 41 ha of land and has a population of 5634 hab.
The avg living space in an appartement is 32.9 sqm/pers. A family of 5 have would have a 165 sqm dwelling which is more than enough.
Most buildings are 3 or 4 storeys high with a lot of green spaces. Double the height and you theorically reach 27000 hab/km² easily. So making a 6 storey building here and there would help reach the target.






One way to acheive this is by reducing the space allocated to cars. Might sound extreme, but some of the reasons families don't like dense cityliving is the lack of green space, a safe space for their child to play outside and the noise and pollution of cities.


EG n°2 IJBURG, currently 10088 hab/km²

If you find the no car too extreme, this project sits on a 150.6 ha and once finished will house roughly 19000 hab. (extrapolated number 7062 dwellings x 2.8 (avg residents per dwelling)
It's mostly midrise buildings with row houses and detached single family floating houses.
Once finished, the density will be around 13000 hab/km²





Obviously the decrease in density come from the wide streets alocated to the cars. Nevertheless it still achieves a good level of density. Similar to vauban, increasing the height here and there can help acheive the target
If you have 25min of freetime, here's a video of a guy walking in the most dense part of the neighborhood.
The area doesn't feel cramped and claustrophobic at all IMO.


EG n°3 Hammerby Sjôstad 15000hab/km²

This one might help to better visualise what a 160 hab/ha looks like.
You double the height and you reach the most dense area targets (30k/km²). Giant alienating towers are not necessary to house a lot of poeple. These are examples where you can reach the goals while housing poeple with dignity and comfort.







Excellent post. I think we all agree that this sort of planning would be the best way for Kigali to achieve its urban density targets. It's a great alternative to the masses of "skyscraper apartments" you see in Vancouver or other Chinese cities. But this type of low-rise zoning should only be like 75% of Kigali, not all of it. Kigali is aiming to be an international financial center, like New York, London, and Singapore.

That means demand for land in key districts will dramatically outstrip the capacity of these buildings, particularly in commercial areas.

Skyscrapers are an economic response to high land value and economic output in a city. They also have amazing synergies with residential buildings because people can live and work within walking distance, cutting commuting time and boosting economic productivity. People will hate skyscrapers just like we hated cars, sewing machines, etc. when they first came out, but that is an atavistic and "ludditistic" way of thinking.

Interfering with the free-market tends to create problems in other areas, so a good city plan should accommodate the free market instead of fighting it.

Kigali's masterplan is doing this the right way, and I hope public pressure won't blow them off course. The areas around Kiyovu and the Convention Center are zoned for commercial buildings (read skyscrapers) and they are surrounded by mixed-use zoning, which will likely include high-end residential towers. Most of the rest of the city is zoned for high and medium density residential, which ideally will look like the cities you posted in the above images.


Snapshot of Kiyovu. Commercial CBD (red) and the mixed-use Quartier Commercial (pink). Dark orange represents high-density residential. Yellow represents medium and low density. Light green represents green spaces.

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I do not agree with you here

For one, Luxembourg and Zurich are also international financial centres but without skyscrapers. Plus the city centre of Paris is a highly commercial place and yet without skyscrapers. There is no causal link between being a centre of finance or high commercial activity and having towers. Correlation isn’t causation.
The area around Kiyovu or the convention centre call for commercial buildings, yes but commercial ≠ skyscraper

Secondly, Skyscrapers were a response to land scarcity not high land value. Most cities in the world are centric cities, they grow from an original economic core and spreads horizontally, up until they reach a size where the benefits of living or working in the outskirts no longer make sense. This launches a demand for living or working closer to the economic core, so the area around the core and the core itself starts to densify. The land is scarce, therefore pushing for buildings to go up. The skyscraper is a child of density not financial speculation.

It’s not being luddistic to question the relevance of building a skyscraper in the first place. There’s nothing inhenrenty modern about the tower as an architectural typology. Towers have been built in different forms through ages. I’m rather questioning this sort of fetishisation of modernity through architecture. Building high has always been the privilege of the powerful, from the political power with the castle, religion power with the pyramids or church’s bell towers and the 20th century’s version of it, the office tower for the economic power. All these structures for certain objectives reasons had to be high but also for symbolic ones. One being strength projection.

Today, the skyscraper is less a response to an urban necessity but more a symbol, an object to have, so you can show and project to others that you too are modern and economically powerful. And there’s nowhere in the world where these objects of fetishisation are the the most obvious than Africa. Between the glass towers in tropical/equatorial/desert climates, the seemingly endless openings of shopping malls or the villas that try to mimic neoclassical architecture. Behind these gestures, there’s a desire to conform to a supposed idea of what being modern and wealthy is.

Some cities like NY, Hong-Kong or Singapore have to build towers because of geographical reasons. All 3 are on islands too small to accommodate such a large population. Others because they are mega-cities (Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Shanghai…). It seems to me that nowadays, people want towers in cities just for the sake of having them.

Thirdly, towers do not make for a walkable city. Dubai or Vancouver are a prime example. Mixed used zoning is what makes a city walkable.

Fourth, there no such thing as a free-market. Any commercial activity is regulated, being by labour laws, access to the market via a right to practice (fees, diploma, …), environmental protection laws, etc.
Once we have the debate of "How free the market should be ? " is out of the way, we can start to ask ourselves "How can these regulation help the most people ? ". Markets are easily manipulable to one party or another. Right now, the " free-market " leans heavily towards the real-estate industry. If anything, strong regulations in the real-estate market in favour of the public is what helps the most (like in Switzerland or Vienna).
The authorities shouldn’t give in with the developers and instead design what’s best for the common good and then ask the developers to respond to their requests. Now i’m not naive to think that Kigali will not build towers because it doesn’t need nor want them, the appeal is way too strong, but i would rather see developments that try to ask how to make a more liveable city and less on how to collect objects of contemplation.
 

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I do not agree with you here

For one, Luxembourg and Zurich are also international financial centres but without skyscrapers. Plus the city centre of Paris is a highly commercial place and yet without skyscrapers. There is no causal link between being a centre of finance or high commercial activity and having towers. Correlation isn’t causation.
The area around Kiyovu or the convention centre call for commercial buildings, yes but commercial ≠ skyscraper

Secondly, Skyscrapers were a response to land scarcity not high land value. Most cities in the world are centric cities, they grow from an original economic core and spreads horizontally, up until they reach a size where the benefits of living or working in the outskirts no longer make sense. This launches a demand for living or working closer to the economic core, so the area around the core and the core itself starts to densify. The land is scarce, therefore pushing for buildings to go up. The skyscraper is a child of density not financial speculation.

It’s not being luddistic to question the relevance of building a skyscraper in the first place. There’s nothing inhenrenty modern about the tower as an architectural typology. Towers have been built in different forms through ages. I’m rather questioning this sort of fetishisation of modernity through architecture. Building high has always been the privilege of the powerful, from the political power with the castle, religion power with the pyramids or church’s bell towers and the 20th century’s version of it, the office tower for the economic power. All these structures for certain objectives reasons had to be high but also for symbolic ones. One being strength projection.

Today, the skyscraper is less a response to an urban necessity but more a symbol, an object to have, so you can show and project to others that you too are modern and economically powerful. And there’s nowhere in the world where these objects of fetishisation are the the most obvious than Africa. Between the glass towers in tropical/equatorial/desert climates, the seemingly endless openings of shopping malls or the villas that try to mimic neoclassical architecture. Behind these gestures, there’s a desire to conform to a supposed idea of what being modern and wealthy is.

Some cities like NY, Hong-Kong or Singapore have to build towers because of geographical reasons. All 3 are on islands too small to accommodate such a large population. Others because they are mega-cities (Sao Paulo, Tokyo, Shanghai…). It seems to me that nowadays, people want towers in cities just for the sake of having them.

Thirdly, towers do not make for a walkable city. Dubai or Vancouver are a prime example. Mixed used zoning is what makes a city walkable.

Fourth, there no such thing as a free-market. Any commercial activity is regulated, being by labour laws, access to the market via a right to practice (fees, diploma, …), environmental protection laws, etc.
Once we have the debate of "How free the market should be ? " is out of the way, we can start to ask ourselves "How can these regulation help the most people ? ". Markets are easily manipulable to one party or another. Right now, the " free-market " leans heavily towards the real-estate industry. If anything, strong regulations in the real-estate market in favour of the public is what helps the most (like in Switzerland or Vienna).
The authorities shouldn’t give in with the developers and instead design what’s best for the common good and then ask the developers to respond to their requests. Now i’m not naive to think that Kigali will not build towers because it doesn’t need nor want them, the appeal is way too strong, but i would rather see developments that try to ask how to make a more liveable city and less on how to collect objects of contemplation.
The fact that you would be unwilling to compromise between low rise (75%) and skyscrapers (5%-15%) suggests you might be an anti-skyscraper nut. Are skyscrapers a display of power? Yes. Are they a symbol of wealth and technological advancement? Yes. And what is wrong with that? -- on a continent that has been stereotyped (and Rwanda actually didn't) build any structure higher than one story before the arrival of Europeans?

If left to people like you, SSAfrica would continue its legacy of architectural underachievement for the next 1,000 years.

Why do you think Europe is so proud of its low-rise historical centers? Those buildings harken back to their glory days. What past glory is Africa trying to memorialize? Colonialism? Subsistence farming? No. Our glory is in the future, not the past, and we should represent that with cutting-edge buildings. We don't have the luxury to rest on our laurels with overly conservative city planning. Europeans earned that privilege. We haven't.

The Americans saw the glory of Europe and responded with skyscrapers clad in brick and stone. The Japanese one-upped them with even more futuristic cities, and then the Chinese and Arabs built technological marvels like Dubai, Doha, and Shanghai -- largely out of a desire to compensate for their historical poverty and show the world they arrived. Africa has an unprecedented opportunity to surpass all of these regions, and we shouldn't waste it by trying to copy Zurich.

It's time to build Wakanda. Get with the program.
wakanda.jpg
 

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Well, it's an odd place to be if i was an "anti-skyscrapercity nut". I assure you, i'm not. Otherwise i've wouldn't suscribed to a forum dedicated to them.
The problem with them as you've asked lies in your post.
Skyscrapers are buildings, boxes for human activities to take place, not ornemental objects to shield yourself from your insecurities.
My issue is people like you calling for poor countries to spend their money on expensive white elephants projects. To be stuck in a place where they can't differentiate reality with fiction.

Leave Wakanda alone, it's not real. No country in Africa should bankrupt itself trying to pursue chimeras.
 

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Kigali would look well with skyscrapers, but only moderate ones; they shouldn't try to emulate Dubai. With lack of land due to increased density I see no solution outside of building higher. Urban sprawl would kill Rwanda.
 

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Well, it's an odd place to be if i was an "anti-skyscrapercity nut". I assure you, i'm not. Otherwise i've wouldn't suscribed to a forum dedicated to them.
The problem with them as you've asked lies in your post.
Skyscrapers are buildings, boxes for human activities to take place, not ornemental objects to shield yourself from your insecurities.
My issue is people like you calling for poor countries to spend their money on expensive white elephants projects. To be stuck in a place where they can't differentiate reality with fiction.

Leave Wakanda alone, it's not real. No country in Africa should bankrupt itself trying to pursue chimeras.
Architecture is about more than just building "boxes" for human activity. Buildings are symbols of the culture and values of the civilizations that create them. How much have the pyramids contributed to the culture and identity of Egyptians -- or the Great Wall of China for the Chinese? The value of good architecture is incalculable, and it lasts for generations. For Africa to shy away from this beautiful competition would be a tragedy. You can call it insecurity if you want, but it's better than being content with mediocrity.

Also, good architecture/skyscrapers don't have to bankrupt a country. It's largely private sector driven. Here is an example of a nice Afro-futurist /Eco-Futurist tower planned for Kigali. "Wakanda" is more attainable than you think. The biggest mistake Kigali could make would be to implement a restrictive and over-conservative city plan to satisfy some people's fetish for low-rise buildings.


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Kigali would look well with skyscrapers, but only moderate ones; they shouldn't try to emulate Dubai. With lack of land due to increased density I see no solution outside of building higher. Urban sprawl would kill Rwanda.
Nobody says otherwise, but some people here are acting as if the city of Kigali isn't aware of the problem and aren't actively searching solutions for it.
The point of my post was to show that density doesn't necessarily translates into towers and that not building them doesn't makes you mediocre as implied by Dimension Stone.
 
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