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City Form

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A capital city has to be more than an orthodox city, as in addition to being the base of operations for a normal life, it houses the legislature and ail the associated functions. Throughout history, mankind has placed a particular importance on the capital city, lavishing attention and care upon it and attempting to give it some eminence, respect, visual character and richness, to lift it above the standard of other cities in the nation. For a nation of many diverse tribal groupings and climatic zones, this is indeed difficult, but it is necessary in Tanzania.

Capital cities are of two distinct types. The first type is represented by ancient and great capitals such as Rome, Paris, London and Vienna, which were significant urban centres hundreds of years before they became national capitals. Surviving waves of differing civilizations, these timeless capitals have remained important through changes of government, insurrections, revolutions and imperial conquests. This is due to their particular geographical relationships and strategic position. As cradles of civilization they have developed as storehouses of capital, intellect, scientific knowledge, technological skills, humanistic culture and art. Their role as a capital, while further enhancing their positions of pre-eminence, was a fairly recent and comparatively incidental aspect of urban development and activity. More recent examples are Nairobi and Dar es Salaam.

The second distinct type is the capital city created by decree, in ancient times this was invariably by autocratic authority, as for example Istanbul or Peking, but, in the development of democratic nations in recent history, this has been by the will of the people, expressed through acts of parliament. Examples of this type are Washington, Ottawa, Canberra and Dodoma. Cities generated and developed in this way, by an act of legislation, have required enormous effort to render them viable as administrative centres alone.

Evidence of this is the building of Versailles and Brasilia, as well as Washington and Ottawa. Where these decreed capita! cities have retained their sense of piace, importance and purpose, is where they have been favoured with an additional large proportion of more normal urban elements, adding industrial, commercial and cultural life to the basically administrative components. Reliance on administrative functions alone, or, for that matter, on any other single-function economic base, is very risky indeed for the building of a city, it is essential for a viable, energetic and pace-setting city, that it have the kaleidoscopic diversity of life. This life, interest and vitality, comes in the final analysis from its people, who, if they are to have the necessary ferment and cross fertilization of ideas, opinions and strength of a Capital City population, should be drawn from a representative and varied crosssection of the total society. This is expected to take place in Dodoma.

Differences in cities should of course exist. These traditionally came primarily from regional changes and contrasts, but, with the diminishing differentiation of regional development in the world, this no longer has such an effect. The real quality of the modern national capital, then, can come from its qualities as a functioning contemporary urban region, well related to its geographical and regional landscape assets, plus the civic design qualities that make a grand design conception of its vistas, places of interest, great circulatory routes and juxtaposition of its important building complexes.


Traditionally, city forms have been abstracted into an academic classification of simplified shapes. Some of these forms in their simplest shape are illustrated on Plate C1. In many cases city form is a combination of plans, resulting from topographic conditions, economic pressures, changes in administration or changes in planning goals and objectives.

Briefly, the basis of each of the forms or plans shown on Plate C1 are as follows.

Planned Sprawl Plan

This plan is based on a rational approach to urban configuration. It sees growth as a series of functions, logically connected by a hierarchy of transport systems. Its physical form is determined primarily by topography and landscape assets, a consideration of appropriate functional and density relationships, the hierarchy of vehicular and pedestrian movement systems, economic and service aspects of development, and last but not the least, by visual and three dimensional considerations. These factors are then logically evaluated with priorities attached to each and the final synthesis results in a pattern of urban growth. This is not to say, however, that this approach does not encompass or will not result in any of the particular patterns of development which follow, — the decision to do so, has been based on a step by step reasoned approach. Examples of this form type are Dar es Salaam, Canberra and Ottawa.

Linear Growth or Elongated Plan

The principle of this plan is based on two factors: the dominance of a central movement spine and a strong relationship to the open countryside.

It is distinguished by its high contrast between urban growth and rural openness. At points, where secondary movement systems open perpendicular to the main movement spine, focal points of activity, density and commercial uses are located.

Its effect on the social fabric of the city is marked, as it has the greatest degree of separation, in terms of distance, of all city parts from each other, and a minimum of opportunity for contact.

A commonly quoted advantage of this growth system is that industry, which is located in a linear pattern on the opposite side from residential development, will be located closer to the residence of workers, that is, the journey to work should be shortened. However, this is true only if the workers in every case live opposite to their piace of employment.

In addition, internal distances other than the journey to work, are lengthened and the opportunity to create an intense urban atmosphere is greatly diminished and the sense of community identity is more difficult to achieve.

The linear concept is more theoretical than practical at city scafe, and most examples of this type of city tend to become more identifiable under one of the other forms. Brasilia is based on this principle.

At Multi-City scale, this concept is more easily identifiable and sprawl along sea or lake shores is typical. The Eastern Seaboard of the United States and the western end of Lake Ontario provide interesting examples.

Grid-iron Plan

In this plan, growth takes place by addition of grid development to an existing grid system.

Traditionally, there was little or no hierarchical distinction made in the streets of the grid pattern. Ail streets were assigned equal importance. The increase in vehicular transportation on many of the streets in the system resulted in heavy congestion and created a conflict of pedestrian and vehicular movement.

The new approach to the grid pattern, based on a hierarchical system of movement which is integrated with uses appropriate to that hierarchy and in conjunction with open space systems throughout, can result in a successful regional and city form. The new capital cities of Islamabad and Chandigarh are basically grid type plans.

Radial or Concentric Pian

This type of plan, developed from formal planning principles, is distinguished by its concentration of business, commercial, entertainment, cultural and political functions in the central core, its connection to the hinterland is achieved by a series of radial spines.

Between these spines, the wedges of open space may penetrate to the heart of the city. In many instances however, due to Sack of development controls and pressures on land values, these wedges of open space have been used for urban growth.

In cases where control of the space between development spines has been possible, a divorce between these arms in terms of social contact occurred. Each arm developed almost as a separate linear sub-city without identification within the larger city.

Concentric channels of movement can tie these arms together. At the junction of these concentric and radial links, urban focal points of significant economic and visual importance can be created, which together with the city's core, assist in the identification of the total city in its region.

Overloading of the transport system is an obvious problem when too great a proportion of employment is located in the city centre. Greater dependency on mass transport, and a greater dispersal of office functions and industries to outlying areas has been made possible by technological innovations and this, in turn, has lessened the movement pressures on the city core. As a result, this core is becoming more and more specialized in a regional context, in cities of developed countries. Washington and Paris are the most outstanding examples of this form.

Multi-Centred Plan

A not-yet realized pattern of development in its pure form, this plan of growth is distinguished by its nucleated and hierarchical series of basically introverted centres. Each centre is virtually self-sufficient, but in total all of them are dependent in a regional context on one single supercentre. They couid be separated by open space and connected by an inter-locking traffic network. Strong identity of centres is possible, but lack of cross-contact is a danger. This concept can, however, be developed at two scales: at the regional scale, centres serving small townsor cities are correlated to a regional super-centre located at the core: while at a large city scale, sectors of the city revolve around nodal development, related possibly to mass-transit stops, high-density housing, and commercial and recreational facilities.

All the cities mentioned are in part multi-centred plans, but Stockholm is probably the best example of this plan form.

Cluster or Unit Plans (Repetitive-Modular)

This type cannot be truiy called a distinct form, because of its close relationship to all of the preceding forms. However, it is distinct, when it makes use of a repeating prototypical unit in a linear, sinuous, concentric or other form, all connected by a central movement spine.

A disadvantage of this plan type can be the loss of identity of the individual units in the total system. However, this form can be ideal with the conditions of topography and transport prevailing in Dodoma. A considerable sense of place can be achieved if, in master planning, careful integration with the prominent points of landscape is implemented. Furthermore, by grouping individual community units, urban identification is possible by emphasizing the National Capital Centre, and sub-centres as proposed in Dodoma.

Plates C2 to C7 show the form of actual cities.


Distinct from city form on a large scale, which might be observed only from high altitude, city image is the form of a city which impinges on its users' awareness. This is the form imparted by urban design, to give the correct sense of place, of belonging and of scale to the centra! city. This image should relate the capital's major elements satisfactorily, both to the individual in the streets and to the surrounding spaces of the landscape.

In developing a capital's image, there have been basically three approaches: first, a man-made, formal approach which subdues the landscape to conscious design considerations, as in Chandigarh and Brasilia, Washington or Paris: second, a random approach which has allowed a city's form to develop itself over time, as in central London: and third, an approach of conscious design which integrates the formality of man-made design with the natural landscape. This has been successfully achieved in Peking with a formal grid plan, and in Ottawa where the high points of a magnificent landscape have been exploited within a less formal plan to give a capital of great presence, in general, the grand and formal approach brings to mind domination of natural forces and of the landscape, along with concepts of power and imperial might. Random development recognizes man's society as a living organism, subject to the forces of nature and growing under its own impetus. Careful design, recognizing the interdependence of man and nature, allowing nature to rule in some instances and subduing it to man's will in others, provides an integration that is felt to be particularly suited to Africa in general and Tanzania in particular.

In Dodoma, the latter approach will be taken. For practical considerations, it was felt that the landscape was particularly suited to this type of design, and the cluster city form, developed from transportation and sociological considerations, encouraged this approach.

The end result of these different methods of design is to create a memorable image and impact on the beholder which is characteristic of a particular city. That image must reflect the hopes and aspirations of the nation as expressed by its Government and must present in physical form the mood and character of the people. It is hoped that this will be adequately fulfilled in Dodoma. The design approach is discussed in Chapter XIII, of Technical Supplement No. 4.

Plates C8, C9 and C10 show the central core of selected cities and some of the character imparted by design considerations.


Economic Base and Growth Aspects

The economic base is the prime motivator for the growth of a city and its related region. The anticipated types and size of economic functions, and the corresponding residential development, the administrative, civic, culturai and social facilities and their relationships to locale and distance, strongly influence the form of a city. The availability of private and public funds will particularly influence density and quality of development.

Natural and Physiographic Aspects

Land forms, soil characteristics, climatic conditions, vegetation and rivers and other water bodies are factors which strongly influence the shape and form of a city. For example, the preservation of arable iand or the conservation of wilderness areas will act as restraints on the shaping of a city.

The degree of emphasis on one or more of these factors will be reflected in a distinct city structure.

Servicing Aspects

The provision of an appropriate infrastructure for community development, must be based on the relative economy of alternative service systems. Drainage characteristics, water table levels, ease of providing water and sewer services either as extensions to existing systems or as new parts of the system, affect feasibility, direction and costs of developing alternate sectors of land and thus influence the form of development.

Transportation and Employment Aspects

The patterns of movement in the city are largely determined by the location of its major activity generators. These are centres of employment, centres of community activity and places of residence. In the arrangement of these activity generators the most efficient and viable solution is one which results in the least amount of conflict between different patterns of movement.

Socia! and Cultural Aspects

A statement of the social goals of a city's plan should resuit in the planned distribution of its people and its communities. If it is intended to integrate all peoples of a country into one viable urban community, which will represent the nation as a whole, a form of development which will encourage social contact and mixing of cultures must be evolved. The specific locations of communities and neighbourhoods will give each a character which could encourage the growth of distinct cultural groupings within a social mix of all income groups. Thus the variety and diversity of a great city can be achieved with equality.

Visual Aspects

Every urban settlement has particular physical resources which distinctly influence its visual form and character. The skyscraping architecture of Manhattan Island is an expression of the cultural and economic status of the city and its people, achieved by the highest concentration of activities and monetary resources on a very restricted island area. The water architecture of a city such as Venice was only possible by an imaginative exploitation of the multitude of lagoons and harmonious relationship of structures to the water bodies.

Regional Setting

The context of a city in its regional setting, in economic, political and social terms, presents another determinant of city form. As the heart of a nation's cultural, administrative and business activities, a capital city is bound to evoke a set of strong relationships with the settlements of the hinterland. These look to the capital city, not only as an outlet for economic pursuits and markets, but as a guiding force in their own growth. The capitai in turn changes in form and shape as the strength of these influences varies. Again, if these forces are considered in isolation of the above factors, a new pattern of development emerges.


From a consideration of ail those factors which can influence the city's form and growth pattern, a series of goals for the city as a totality can be established. Subsequently, priorities in areas of relative importance will emerge.


ΠAn examination of these form determinants for Dodoma reveals a set of parameters, which influence the form concept of the Master Plan-

Economic Base and Growth Factors

The Capitai City will be the seat of Central Government. Additionally, it will be a regional centre of commerce and industry, the hub of transportation and air traffic and eventually it will be the Tanzanian city with the highest concentration of social, cultural and educational facilities, overtaking Dar es Salaam in this role.

Natural and Physical Aspects

The location of the city on a broad upland plateau, defined by hill chains and inselbergs, suggests a cluster development along an efficient public transportation system as beads on a string. The shape and presence of the hills is attractive as are the guileys and valleys. In a landscape with little water, these valleys will be areas where water bodies can be formed and can provide pleasant areas of rest in the city.

Servicing Aspects

Natura! drainage channels have to be reserved for storm drainage within the overall servicing structure. In this context, the location of future sewage treatment plants has to be considered. Of particular importance is the preservation of water recharge areas.

Transportation and Employment Aspects

The existing pattern of major roads to other parts of Tanzania will remain. The east-west, north-south intersection of the regional trunk roads is a major generator of form for the new capital.

The rate of growth of private car ownership and the severe limitation of public funds, make an effective public transportation system mandatory.

The railway lines generally will remain. The pattern of rail/ bus movement will be important as a generator of social activity.

Every attempt has to be made to correlate places of residence to employment areas, to achieve short home-towork journeys and, at the same time, to disperse traffic movements.

Social and Cultural Aspects

Existing Dodoma is one of Tanzania's most heterogeneous cities. As such, it is an ideal base for the growth of a capital city. The educational, commercial, recreational and political fife of the nation will come together in diverse ways. The structuring of this pattern in an effective direction in all aspects of city life is necessary and will help generate form.

Visual Aspects

Dodoma has great potential for the development of its visual aspects: the hills and the vast views over the plains are magnificent. The exploitation of these aspects, by careful integration of the city into their structure, will create a memorable visual experience in the new capital.

Regional Setting

Within the region, Dodoma will remain the major catalyst for activities and production. A balance of growth, however, has to be found between the city proper and the region. Proposals for this are included in Technical Supplement No. 6, Regional Study, one of the principal objectives being to develop the regional agricultural potential alongside the city,


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Copyright: Project Planning Associates Limited, Toronto, Canada, directed by Mr. Macklin Hancock and recipient "The Government of Tanzania, Capital Development Authority under the auspices of Mr. George Kahama.".