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Provost's Imagine Fund for Arts and Humanities

Study Swahili Public Squares

The research project seeks to investigate the typology and morphology of public squares, specifically, by studying three East African World Heritage Cities: Mozambique, Zanzibar and Lamu in the Swahili region. The goals of the project intend to define archetypal understanding of everyday life of public squares and identify physical attributes for public space design.

Mozambique, Lamu, Zanzibar are three exemplars of the Swahili coastal trading towns of East Africa. They retain their urban fabric and townscapes virtually intact and contain many fine buildings and monuments that reflect the Swahili culture, which has brought together and homogenized disparate elements of the cultures of Africa, the Arab region, India, and Europe for more than six centuries. The public squares particularly testify to this long-standing interchange of human values. The layout, construction and design of public squares in these three towns, expertly blending imported and local ideas, materials, and techniques, make the Swahili townscapes an example of indigenous creativity. Public squares in Swahili towns are still vital to the quotidian and cultural functions of urban fabric. The research project has the following objectives:
1.study the roles of public squares in African Islamic towns and architecture;
2.survey and analyze the cultural attributes of Swahili public squares through digital graphics;
3.develop an analytical typology of Swahili squares and culture for urban conservation.

The 2016 Imagine Fund award intends to hire a graduate assistant to work on the info-tech, database, graphics, and tabulate information for the research project on Swahili Public Squares.

First Name: 
Arthur
Last Name: 
Chen
E-mail Address: 
Campus: 
Twin Cities
Department: 
Architecture