Building a framework for the sustainable African city of the future.
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The increase in rural to urban migration rates have resulted in the rapid urbanization and uncontrolled growth of modern day cities. This trend is expected to continue in the coming years, thereby increasing the demand for goods and services. Current operational methods in Africa involve old and outdated approaches, which have further exacerbated the challenges faced by cities. Continued operation in this manner will have negative long-term consequences such as climate change, environmental damage, and overconsumption of resources, ultimately decreasing the quality of life for citizens. These effects are particularly predominant in Africa, which despite being the least developed continent, is experiencing the highest rate of urbanization. This research looks at the implementation of the concept of sustainable cities in the African context, based on the main pillars of sustainability. Currently, cities around the world are incorporating sustainable measures to design their frameworks, using different methods which are dependent on factors such as locality and available resources. In this research, these methods were generalised to two main approaches applicable in the developed and developing countries’ contexts, namely the Smart and Symbio City concepts respectively. The use of Sustainability Indicators was applicable to both contexts, and was used to identify areas of concern with respect to the African context, specifically to the city of Durban. The indicators were derived from literature, case studies’ assessment and field research. The comparison between the Smart and Symbio City concepts was complemented by the assessment of case studies of two cities through field analysis, namely Durban in South Africa and Trento in Italy. The Symbio City concept was found to be more applicable to the developing countries’ context, therefore suitable for Durban. A method of evaluation was devised to guide in making informed decisions in defining short and long-term actions necessary for implementing a sustainable framework for African cities.