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Charter Cities Podcast Episode 43: Building Up and Not Out with Heba Elhanafy

Talking to us today is urban planning researcher Heba Elhanafy. We dive into the episode with an overview of what the newly released Planning Guidelines cover, and how new city making has evolved. We hear about the three topics the Planning Guidelines tackle.


Across the global south, cities are growing outwards instead of upwards. Talking to us today about why this is a bad thing for commuters, is urban planning researcher Heba Elhanafy. We dive into the episode with an overview of what the newly released planning guidelines cover, and how new city making has evolved. We hear about the three topics the planning guidelines tackle (how the global south builds, what works, and what doesn’t work), and why a single developer working on a city is less effective than multiple developers and shareholders. Heba breaks down the benefits of building bottom-up, instead of top-down, and describes what developers can expect to learn from the planning guidelines. We also hear about two examples of urban planning done right: the Manhattan example, and the much smaller scale Ethiopian Urban Expansion initiative. Tune in to learn how communities help the expansion and growth of a development, and how planning a city can help lift people out of poverty. We wrap up the episode with some of Heba’s personal experiences of traffic living in cities across the global south, and why she believes a new model needs to be implemented. So, for all this and so much more, press “Play” now!

Key Points From This Episode:

  • Welcome to today’s guest, urban researcher Heba Elhanafy.
  • What the newly released planning guidelines cover.
  • How new city-making has changed over time.
  • The three topics the planning guide looks at: how the global south builds, what works, and what doesn’t work.
  • Why one developer building a city is a bad idea.
  • The benefits of building bottom-up, instead of top-down.
  • How planning can assist chartering cities that lift people out of poverty.
  • Why the planning guidelines will help developers.
  • An example of the Ethiopian Urban Expansion Initiative.
  • Understanding that communities will help with the expansion and growth of a development.
  • The Manhattan example, as a large-scale example.
  • Enhancing mobility within a city, and the benefits to workers.
  • Why building up is better than building out.


 Mark: Hello, and welcome to the Charter Cities podcast. I’m your host, Mark Lutter, the founder and executive director of the Charter Cities Institute. On the Charter Cities podcast, we illuminate the various aspects of building a charter city, from governance to urban planning, politics to finance. We hope listeners to the Charter Cities podcast will come away with a deep understanding of charter cities, as well as the steps necessary to build them. You can subscribe and learn more about Charter Cities at Follow us on social media, on Twitter, and Charter Cities Institute on Facebook. Thank you for listening.


 Jeffrey: I’m Jeffrey Mason, researcher at the Charter Cities Institute. Joining me on the podcast today to discuss CCI’s latest reference guide, The Urban Planning Guidelines for Charter Cities is our own urban researcher, Heba Elhanafy. Heba is an urban planner by background and is currently based in CCI’s new Lusaka, Zambia office. We discuss the content of the planning guidelines, as well as the philosophy and research behind it. We hope you enjoy this episode.


 Jeffrey: Hi, Heba. Thanks for joining me today on the show.


 Heba: Oh! Thank you for having me, Jeff.


 Jeffrey: Today’s topic is of course are soon to be released planning guidelines, city planning guidelines for Charter Cities of which you are the author. Tell us, what are these planning guidelines? What do they cover? Why do we write them? What’s the story of the planning guidelines?


 Heba: Yeah. I’ve had a really long story, it goes to almost two years back. It’s basically the kind of first project I started when I joined CCI, yeah, almost two years back. It’s just basically Mark telling me, “Hey! Can you plan the future charter city? Can you do like a 3D plan?” I was like, “Hey! Mark, it doesn’t work like this. You need to develop more, I don’t know, like an outline of how to plan but you can’t plan a city from scratch or in air.” Then yeah, it almost took us two years to kind of have an outline of how to start thinking about the planning and design aspects of a charter city. Yes, that’s planning guidelines, Jeff.


 Jeffrey: What are the planning guidelines actually cover? Why is this necessary? What mistakes are being made in current city planning, especially new city planning that these guidelines attempt to correct?


 Heba: Yeah. Urban planning is a kind of an interesting science, or discipline or whatever, because it’s actually kind of new, right? We started planning our cities somewhat recently. The thing about planning is that it’s always have changed. We don’t have the same principles in planning that we have 10 years ago. Don’t even have the same principle that we have 15 years ago. Every single year and every single time, those kinds of principles keep changing, there are more conversations. Right now, you can see in more traditional city planning, they’re talking about participation, talking about placemaking basically all over the world. But the problem with new city making is that those kinds of conversations, they just never made it to new city making. We’ve been going into a very traditional old school route in building our cities.


If you look at kind of new city making, literally all over the world, hundreds of cities that are being built right now, you can easily put them in three categories. You can either the kind of fancier suburbs, which is something like  in Egypt encapsulates or more of like the bigger Chinese blocks, which is something like Kalimba New City in Angola, or more of like the Dubai international style or whatever. The problem with those three paradigms or three kind of planning ways, is that they don’t really respond to the needs of youth. They don’t respond to the problem of youth that currently exists. They keep reproducing the same problems, we are planning the same way and will have the same problem. That’s why we were like, “Hey! Let’s do the planning guideline and try to rethink how we plan how we design our new cities.” Yeah, that’s basically the main kind of goal for the planning guidelines.


 Jeffrey: Okay. We have this sort of slate of problems that we’re trying to address in new city building. What you came up with, in the planning guidelines is this paradigm for planning that you call guided organic growth. Can you explain sort of what this philosophy for planning is and sort of what are the key pillars of this new idea?


 Heba: Before we go into guided organic growth, let me just kind of reflect a little bit on how we tried to build out these ideas. We looked at kind of three things to build out our major ideas from. The first thing we looked at, basically how the global south build, what works, what doesn’t work, what are the problems. You look at cities like Cairo, which is like 70% informality, but somehow the informality works and you have electricity, and water and whatever. We looked at how overtime, informal settlement seemed to grow and somehow sustain itself. We looked at current city projects, current new city projects a lot, and historical city projects a lot.


Through the planning guideline, you’re going to find basically a lot, a lot of examples of new cities. The third thing we looked at, what is currently happening right now. What are the problems on the ground, with developers on the ground, city developers to try to understand this problem from? Then we kind of move them to three things, and try to come up with how to actually rethink planning or rethink planning in new cities.


Basically, guided organic growth is trying to kind of shift the narrative of how we build new cities. It has three main components or three main pillars. The first one is that we try to rethink city planning as a set of stakeholders, plus a set of activities and trying to match the best activity with the best stakeholder. In traditional new city planning, we usually have one stakeholder, which is a developer, whether it’s public, or private, or public private partnerships, who comes in, and just execute the vision from day one. Basically, execute the vision 100% without really a lot of interventions from nearby cities, or governments or even the people who are going to live there.


 Jeffrey: So from moving dirt to the project is “complete”?


 Heba: Exactly. You have usually one stakeholder to the developer who comes in and does everything, which is problematic, because, first off, it puts a lot of capital from the developer has to put on, which always drive the prices of the cities very high. Because you have to do practically everything from the littlest public space to all of the city development, for instance. The second thing is that, then you have one vision that is executed, and the vision of the people, they want to live their lives. The market forces that should come in and play a bigger role in the development doesn’t really affect the city because you have everything already built out, which limits growth. It doesn’t really include a lot of people in the development process. That’s why we’re thinking a lot of, “Hey! There are sphere of activities, developing a city and we have a sphere of stakeholders that include the local government, that includes the national government, that includes the developer and the community that’s going to move in. Just mix matching those ideas.


The second thing is playing on the timeframe. Again, most of our new city development, developer comes in and develop everything from — as we said, ideation to a complete city. This is something that we learned over and keep learning over and over again from the development informality or the more organic ways of people, how they build, then they build over time. We can go look at any informal settlements that was there 20 years ago, and it looks completely different. Most people acquire capita. Once there is more wealth, people tend to build better. This is something that we want to bring to our charter cities, is that we develop the main infrastructure, we develop products and services. As the city accumulate wealth, we then go into the less essential sphere of activities.


The second pillar is the top down and bottom-up approaches. Again, with new city development, we see basically 99%, or almost 100% of new cities are being developed top down. I mean, because bottom up is harder, of course, in new city, people haven’t moved in. But it’s usually very top down and it’s not working. That’s why we’re thinking, “Hey! A mix of top down and bottom approach is the same idea that are found in our cities right now, are discussed by our planners. We can a little bit communicate them in new city planning or implement them in new city planning.” Those are basically kind of the three main pillars of building a new city.


 Jeffrey: Okay. That makes sense to, I think to draw on all these different traditions where things are being done. Some of its working, some of its not. So, what we’re trying to do here, I think is pull out the best of what is working. But that’s also relevant in the context that we’re talking about, because a new city in one place at a particular say income level isn’t necessarily going to look like a city in another place at a very different income level. I think these guidelines do a good job of bridging that gap.


 Heba: Trying to really think about who do you want, right? Because in CCI, we always talk about how charter cities can help lift people out of poverty, right? But for us, to be able to attract those people who live in poverty doesn’t mean that we have to build the way that they’re building, and also drive prices a whole way down for them to actually be able to move to the city that is going to increase their wealth over time. The thinking of who we’re building for was also like a huge driver in planning, on setting of planning guidelines.


 Jeffrey: I think this is going to prove to be a really important sort of step forward in the field of planning. There’s one additional thing that I wanted to hit on. That’s sort of, what went into these guidelines are some of the ideas coming out of these sorts of market urbanist communities. We’ve had Alain Bertaud, author of Order Without Design, one of our favorite books on the podcast. More recently, we’ve had Scott Beyer, founder of the Market Urbanism Report on the podcast. I think the ideas of the market urbanist community that sort of market forces are incredibly important in shaping cities, and what cities look like, how they operate, how it is to live in a city. They’ve had a lot of influence on us. Can you talk a little bit about how some of the ideas coming out of that world influence the guidelines?


 Heba: Yeah. That’s a very good question, because that is not my world. That is not the world that I come from. I come from an urban geography, urban sociology kind of world. I remember all of the discussions that we had when I first joined the institute, and the book discussions and even the onboarding discussion with you, Jeff and Mark. Talking about things like productivity, or efficiency and all of those kinds of newer words for me, I would say. Then of course, reading the work of Alain Bertaud and others in the market urbanism sphere, and understanding really the power that the economics have with shaping cities.


Then from there, once you just kind of understand this, and then you start combining it a little bit more with what actually worked for the community, they actually — we realized that they actually — you’re doing work together very well. Unlike communities all over the world that specifically how their global houses are built, how their informal settlements are being built are basically applying the rules of Mark beneath them and the importance of land values and this kind of stuff. The communities already get them. I think the problem is with a little bit the developer, the government a little bit behind on that. The planners as well, of course, the planning community is — well, there is a little bit of progress currently in city making, but in new city making specifically, this is been kind of a little bit behind. That’s why I also think that planning guidelines are important in just starting a conversation, specifically on greenfield development. Because I think, while cities, we have progressed a lot. New city developments are kind of still not completely applying the rules, or the idea to really learning from the ideas of markets urbanism into their development, which I think eventually it will help everyone, help the community, help the developers. It will make more money. On every scale, it just works, right?


 Jeffrey: Well, here’s hoping these guidelines end up and pushing some of these new cities in a more positive and I think realistic direction. I think now that we’ve got an understanding at a high level, what the guidelines are, why they were written, and sort of the thinking that is behind them that went into them. Let’s get into some of the details. The guidelines are broken up into three main sections. There are city development guidelines, urban planning guidelines and mobility guidelines. Let’s start with the first on city development guidelines. We’ve kind of talked about some of this already. But broadly, what is this section cover and what are the key ideas in this section of the guidelines?


 Heba: I always think about like city development guidelines are basically the big ideas, right? Like the paradigm shifts that we talked about, the values that we envision all of our future charter cities to have, things like affordability, accessibility, inclusivity, growth oriented, which is always kind of like a bad idea of new city planning everywhere. We can look at Brasilia, we can look at many new city developments, which is like growth is not something — it’s like certain points, not accessible city in growth. Those kinds of like values that we want to have in our future charter cities, we have them there. We also have the paradigm shift, so its big ideas.


Then you go into the second and third part, which is the advert planning guidelines and the mobility guidelines that basically, it takes those ideas and it takes them into implementation. Things like, especially the planning guideline, in the urban planning guidelines, you see things like, it breaks down our ideas on density, it breaks down our ideas on street networks, it breaks down our ideas on land use, it breaks our ideas on housing and give concrete examples of how to do this on both short-term and long-term processes. As well it goes back to the paradigm and also cobbles those activities, not just on a long-term and short-term, but also with the right stakeholders.


Basically, how the urban planning guidelines and mobility guidelines is it takes the city development ideas and just break them down into actionable things for the developer, and future sharpest developer can take and actually implement, or take them and help guide the development of his new city.


 Jeffrey: Thanks. I think it would be helpful here for our listeners to kind of talk through some of the different examples that we raised throughout these sections, and sort of how drawing on either existing cities or other types of projects, and how they kind of exemplify these sorts of values. One that I think is particularly interesting, and I think that we’ve touched on before on some other projects, one that I think is really interesting is the Ethiopia Urban Expansion initiative. Can you talk a little bit about sort of what that was, and how a project like that, which is focused on existing cities, perhaps we can say the periphery of existing cities goes into how we’re thinking about building out new cities?


 Heba: One thing that we try to do throughout the planning guidelines in general is, just cover a lot of new settlements or new development ideas that actually work that drove down the price that attracted people, that attracted businesses. Even if it’s not a full city scale, but like this kind of small example, that actually worked through, that’s really important to us. Because they don’t just validate our idea. They’re an actual proof that those kinds of ideas work and not just like something up in the air.


One little example is example that you just mentioned, Jeff. Basically, what they did is that to plan for the expansion of our district, by the thought about infrastructure as essential and non-essential, and then they provided what they called centra infrastructure, which was basically foods, electricity and land plots, which is, of course, really important for the development of any settlement. The result of this were really interesting, because, first of, it drove the prices way down and it helped develop a mixed-use community. Just because you’re laying down the ground to providing the main infrastructure, and then you’re letting the community and the market forces come and shape the space.


Again, going back to our idea of market urbanism, the market is always going to take over, economics is always going to shape the city anyways. Just providing that base, which is to talk a lot about the planning guidelines and different ways of providing the base of infrastructure, and letting the community, the market take over. It’s a very well-developed community, it’s very healthy. It actually was much cheaper to own and land there than in all of the other development very nearby, developed in a more of like a traditional way where things were developed from A to Z, let’s say. Yeah, it’s a really cool example that we learned from and it’s actually proved that this kind of approach in new city building, it actually works.


 Jeffrey: I think the key lesson there is, there’s a lot of value for the, it could either be the government or the developer itself, kind of laying out some baseline parameters. Here’s what the road network is going to be, here’s how the land is going to be subdivided and you’re going to know this in advance. People can behave and act in response to that sort of planning and make their own decisions. Rather than it being left entirely to basically whatever people want to do, which as I think we’ve talked about a bit, ends up being sort of very costly later on and trying to actually provide them services. Or the alternative where it’s all planned out directly from the top, and people who end up living there have no real input. Thanks to our friends at the Marron Institute at NYU for giving us that really cool example of something that’s worked.


 Heba: Yeah, and it actually inspired the really important part of our ideas about implementation, where we highlight two main ideas about implementation, right? The first thing that we talk about is the demarcation of public and private. Again, coming from the idea that we don’t have to build everything from scratch, we don’t have to spend our money on developing the littlest public space, a demarcation is a good way to plan the roads, to plan the land plots. Then the communities, the market forces can come in, the investors can come in with a solid plan that is going to develop over the years.


The second thing is the idea of gradual infrastructure. Again, essential infrastructure and non-essential infrastructure, essential infrastructure are needed for businesses and for communities to come in. It will be provided by the developer, the governments and non-essential infrastructure will develop over time as the city gain wealth. The communities come in, and they can actually develop their public spaces, or their shared streets, the way that fits them as the community grows. This was also like very important to develop our ideas on how to implement all of these ideas.


 Jeffrey: Yeah, absolutely. Another example that we touched on that I’ve always been a big fan of this is Manhattan, right? Lower Manhattan was, it was developed early so it doesn’t follow that that much of a pattern. But then once you get a certain point, aside from Central Park and a few other odds and ends, it’s essentially a perfect grid.


 Heba: Exactly, and it works, right?


 Jeffrey: And it worked. It’s like talking about. So, it’s like that that’s like another, I think, right? The Ethiopia urban expansion initiative is sort of a very small-scale example of these ideas and practice. Whereas, what happened with Manhattan is sort of a very large-scale example of what is in a sense almost the same idea.


 Heba: Exactly.


 Jeffrey: Talk about that a little bit.


 Heba: Okay. The Manhattan example is really cool. Because although, I’m the biggest fan of informal settlements, and we try to reference a lot of development segments in the planning guidelines. But one problem with that content is where there is a lot of problems. But one single problem is when you try to go back and develop informal settlement, it’s actually very costly, right? Providing water, waste systems is already developed. While it’s good for the informal settlement, and it will help a developer and everything, it’s actually quite costly.


Something that you can completely learn from the Manhattan grid example in providing that minimal first push on a greenfield site would not just save costs in the long-term, but it would also attract investor, it will attract developers and it will work. Like we see Manhattan work. We have them work from day one, and it will drive down prices a lot in the initial phase of development, which is something that many, or almost all of the new developments suffered from that initial push of finance like, where’s it going to come from, how long it’s going to sustain it? Can we actually drive prices down for the lower classes that would try to get out of poverty, right?


The Manhattan grid laid out an almost kind of perfect idea of what’s an initial push of infrastructure, tiny bits, and letting market forces and letting community come in and do their thing. It actually works and it’s still working.


 Jeffrey: I think it’s a great example of these kinds of ideas in practice, and really, of the sort of guided organic growth idea that you articulate in these guidelines. We talked a good bit about city developing and sort of the main urban planning tools. Let’s talk about the mobility section as well. What’s covered here, and why is it so important to enhance mobility?


 Heba: Okay. I think that we can agree on this, that we all look at cities as labor markets, right? Well, since — I mean, we’re in 2022, you don’t live where you work, right? You have a place where you work and you have a place where you live. You need to get from point A to point B every single day. If we look at, again, if we look at cities as a labor market, and we need to facilitate that accessibility of labor on a daily basis, because you go to work every single day. This is why we were like, “Hey! If we’re going to cover planning guidelines, we’re going to cover ideas about the land use zoning or whatever. We have to cover ideas about how to get people to work.” The city can actually work and can grow economically and can grow over the years.


This was basically the motivation behind developing specific mobility guidelines. Our main goal with the mobility guidelines is basically one thing, it’s trying to get as much people or as much labor as possible, from one point to another, or from their home to their work in less than 30 minutes, which kind of entails a more compact design. It entails mixed use development and entails just like commercial and industrial development all over the city. But it’s basically all comes from market urbanism, and ideas or cities or labor markets, and we’ll just try to get delivered to the world. So, yeah.


 Jeffrey: Yeah. I guess one thing I think is why this is particularly important is, I don’t know that everyone has or all of our listeners wouldn’t necessarily have an intuitive grasp of just how bad I think mobility is in a lot of the rapidly growing mega cities throughout the sort of global south and how long it would take to get from one side to the other. Can you talk a little bit about sort of what the sort of state of play in global south cities looks like, what it actually looks like when it actually comes from getting from point A to point B that isn’t just next door or just down the street?


 Heba: Yeah. I think the cool one, one good example and one example that always strikes me. I remember this one during like early COVID, when Emanuel was always in a car during our meetings. Emmanuel at this point was in — Emmanuel is our operation manager who was still in Lagos at this point. He was just trying to survive, and trying to just get from one point to another and would always take him more than an hour. I’m virtually from Alexandria, Egypt seven years ago, and it’s like more compact city than Cairo, for instance. But in Cairo, we also have one plus hour to get from one point to another. That’s on a good day.


I remember Emmanuel told me once that he was stuck in traffic for four hours and I was like, “If I was ever stuck in traffic for about four hours, I’m going to go completely insane.” Yeah. No, I will. Currently I’m living in Lusaka, and working for our new office in Zambia. One thing you see a lot in Sub Saharan Africa that instead of building upwards, they build outwards. That’s the four-hour drive to get from one point to another inside of the same city. That’s why it was kind of very urgent. It says, it’s very urgent I our city than in the new cities. We try to actively avoid those problems and basically avoid them, of course with density, but you avoid them with creating out strategies that actively avoid those problems and actively try to solve them from the get go.


There are a lot of solutions at work that you can see in the global south, that private, public minibuses. Those are great for sort of meeting. But again, those are not everywhere. Again, building outwards instead of densifying the city in itself is a huge and it still is a huge problem all over the global south. This is why mobility really is important. We can’t spend four hours in traffic. Yes, we can’t.


 Jeffrey: No, that is not a functional city. One of the key pieces of the mobility section talks about trying to minimize the need or reliance on cars. It’s an interesting case, because car ownership relative in, say, Sub Saharan Africa, or in South Asia or anywhere else, relative to say the United States, especially the United States, or maybe Europe. Car ownership rates are much lower. Yeah, in a lot of ways, these cities are still sort of very car dependent, even though that many people don’t own cars. Can you talk a little bit about what the mobility guidelines tried to do to create sort of one, less car-centric cities in terms of their design, but also in terms of sort of what it is people actually need or how they can get around on a day-to-day basis that minimizes the need for cars at all?


 Heba: Yeah, so I think one thing that we can, I think everyone agrees on from all different urbanist walks is that the cars are not good for our cities. They haven’t been good. They haven’t been working. They’re environmentally bad. They’re costly. You are not stuck in traffic, you are traffic. This is one of my favorite quotes. Yeah, and again, that’s why a lot of the global south, although not everyone has cars, everyone who can’t afford a car, they will get one. Why? Because you honestly cannot put — since they’re building outwards, not building upwards, you really cannot go anywhere without a car, public transportation sucks big time, I mean, it kind of barely exists even in bigger cities.


That’s why we have three main principles in the charter city for mobility strategies. The first one is accessible transport, and second one is minimizing the need for private car. You don’t need a private car if you can walk. If you can walk like 10 doors. If you live like 10- or 15-minutes walk or even like a 30-minute walk away from your job, you’re just going to walk. You don’t need a car. The design in itself and designing a more of a compact city will kind of take a lot from that.


The second thing is developing a reliable, accessible, affordable and safe public transportation systems. Let’s take the metro in Cairo, for example. The metro in Cairo, even if you are actually rich, and you have money, and you can take a really nice Mercedes Benz or whatever to work, you will get on the metro because it’s — well, it’s just faster and it is somehow reliable. As long as we can provide those automated, safe, reliable and accessible for everyone, people are just going to go there.


From scratch, while you’re designing this, while you’re building the city, while you still have the chance. This is what I really like about charter cities, there are greenfield development. We have the chance to kind of avoid those problems. Build a more compact city. As we learned, if your trips are walkable, or you can ride a bicycle, it would be easier and more affordable for you. Build that infrastructure for walking, or cycling or a good reliable public transport infrastructure and people are just going to do it. This is basically how you minimize the need for private cars, is eliminate the need for both cars, try not to need it.


 Jeffrey: Yeah. I think this is, especially important for new cities in the global south because so many of them are — maybe they say that they are sort of targeted for a wide audience, but their design tends to lend themselves essentially for only those that have cars, and there’s this this disconnect here. I think these guidelines, when implemented will prove to be quite important in harmonizing that.


 Heba: Yeah. It’s so funny, Jeff. Because if you’re in the US or whatever, people are screaming about how suburbs are bad and not dense enough or whatever, and all of the problems that come with the suburbs. Then you go to a lot of the new developments in Africa, in Sub Saharan Africa, or even Northern Africa, or whatever, and you’re just going to be reproducing those suburbs that we know are super problematic, and are super not sustainable and are actually way costly. While, the literature and everything is just like, goes back to, “Hey! More compact, more densities are good for transport, for labor markets or basically literally everyday life.”


 Jeffrey: Yeah, it’s an interesting case, I think of what some folks have called isomorphic mimicry, where you’re trying to make something sort of in appearance or whatever. Tying to copy what others someone else did that seemed to work without really replicating the underlying conditions, or factors that made something work or not. I think, in a sense, these guidelines tried to be — you’re trying to introduce a bit of humility, to the practice of designing new cities, which I think is something that’s sorely needed.


 Heba: Yeah. Humility is something that is definitely needed. Yeah. I mean, we’re vast, like utopian architects who design everything from scratch. We tried to say this, we saying this. We tried to say that we’re past that. We’re past that, now we’re designing like participation of communities and all that kind of stuff. But the truth is, that doesn’t reflect at all in new city development. Again, I mean, the global south is urbanizing as like — I mean, I think we say this, we say this in every single podcast, right? It’s urbanizing in a tremendous way, and most of this urbanizing is happening in Asia, and it’s happening in Africa.


The way we built still in Asia, and Africa is not based on what Asia and Africa needs. It’s just based on this kind of principles that were made by crazy architects a couple of decades back, and we’re just kind of following them. We keep building bad cities, and more bad cities, and more bad cities. Then, I think more than anything, the planning guideline is like, “Hey, guys. Can we stop and just like think about it?” I mean, on top of everything, you don’t have to believe in everything that we write. But it’s like, let’s stop, have a conversation that covers, a true conversation on all of this, how we can actually build better, and build more sustainable and more affordable and build our own stuff for once.


 Jeffrey: I think that sums it up quite nicely. I mean, I hope these planning guidelines do start those conversations, but also actually sees some implementation in the coming years on the ground, and has a real influence over the people designing these projects and pursuing these projects. Of course, it’s our document, so I’m going to say this, but I think it’s in the best interests of their projects that if new city developers really do want to build vibrant, successful new cities. I think there’s a lot to learn from these guidelines. Thank you for all of your hard work over the past two or so years in drafting these documents. I love them.


 Heba: Thank you, Jeff and thank you, Curtis, for all your help and all your guidance throughout this whole process. I think everyone will give feedback on this. It’s been a process and hopefully it will see the light soon.


 Jeffrey: Yeah. To our listeners, please check out the Charter Cities Institute’s Urban Planning Guidelines. Thank you for listening. Thanks for joining us, Heba.


 Heba: Thanks for having me, Jeff.


 Mark: Thank you for listening to the Charter Cities podcast. For more information about this episode and our guest, to subscribe to the show, or to connect with the Charter Cities Institute, please visit Follow us on social media, on Twitter. And Charter Cities Institute on Facebook. I’m your host, Mark Lutter, and thank you for listening to the Charter Cities podcast.


Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Heba Elhanafy on LinkedIn

Charter Cities Institute

Charter Cities Institute on Facebook

Charter Cities Institute on Twitter

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