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       Chapter II: A Concept for the National Capital

Basic Design Requirements And Objectives


The Dodoma site, in the geographical centre of Tanzania, provides a magnificent opportunity for the creation of a new National Capital which will become the symbol of the heritage and aspirations of the Tanzanian people. It should blend the strength of their pastoral traditions with the challenges of a dynamic future, and express these in physical form. It will be the setting for political debate and decision making, for increasingly complex governmental administration, as well as for the creation of an ever-improving life for generations of Tanzanians. And it will become an important means of helping the rural people of the central regions to improve their life with its institutions, industries, communications and transportation.

The combination of the National Capital's physical elements, such as the government buildings, the country's principal institutions, the traffic and transportation system, the industries and the residential communities will form the city's focus. These will give the Tanzanian or foreign visitor an image of the country's past, present and future, its people, its development and its landscape. It is this combination of elements, which will distinguish Dodoma from other Tanzanian cities and which, therefore, must be designed with special consideration and care.

The requirement for an economical urban concept is fundamental. The costs of the new city must be kept to a minimum by means of the most exhaustively researched planning and design techniques. This must be the case with respect to the capital costs of the physical elements, as well as the costs of operating and of living in the city; in other words, the people's daily travel costs to and from work, the costs of operating the utilities and services, the costs of city maintenance and so on; they all must be as low as possible.

The provision of good housing and community facilities must be one of the most important objectives for the Capital. Traditionally, the Tanzanian people relate to small communities and wide rural areas; a dense urban environment is in many ways alien to the national lifestyles and philosophies. The principle of self-reliance, as expressed in the Arusha Declaration, suggests that all families should live close to arable lands to enable them to grow at least part of their food requirements and, moreover, sociological considerations militate against cities of closely packed buildings and large paved areas.

The housing areas must, therefore, be designed to create relatively small, discrete communities which represent the village way of life, as opposed to the vast urban residential tracts which have little meaning to Tanzanian society. Communities should consist of a number of TANU housing cells, with closely related dwelling units, centred upon small outdoor meeting places.



A typical example of attached housing groups at 30 units per ha, in two ten-unit cells, showing communal open space.

figure1 The design of the residential communities must also incorporate areas of open land to be used as gardens and small farms by the residents. Community plans incorporating and expressing these principles must be prepared within the parameters set by modern town planning methodology, but must allow sufficient flexibility to provide for any changes, as they may occur in an evolving Tanzanian society.

The neighbourhood and community facilities, and the services which people use in their daily life; shops, schools, the social centre and local work places, must all be within easy walking distance from the homes, to reduce the need for costly transportation. To enable people to reach more distant locations in the city, such as the major government, industrial and central city areas, a convenient, economical and simple public transportation system is necessary, as well as a comprehensive system of walkways, bicycle ways and streets. However, as in the case of the design of the residential communities, the layout and basic principles of the transportation system must allow for implementation on an evolving basis, so that it can respond to changing socio/economic parameters which may arise in the future.

Aesthetically, the Dodoma site provides an opportunity for the new city to take the fullest advantage of the area's natural environment; the hills and inselbergs with their splendid views, the vegetation, and the rivers and surface drainage courses with their potentials for agriculture and to store precious water. The city's form must to a large extent be dictated by the area's topography, vegetation, soils and climate. And, in developing the National Capital, the greatest care must be taken to preserve and improve the natural landscape for the continued enjoyment and use by future generations of Tanzanians.

The selection of the town of Dodoma as the site for the National Capital, brings with it the added responsibility to create a master plan which will preserve and improve the existing houses and facilities. While a certain amount of replacement will be inevitable, the social and economic costs of total redevelopment are entirely unacceptable.

Many of the objectives for the new National Capital will be achieved through the implementation of contemporary planning and architectural techniques, tempered by local social, physical and economic conditions. All too frequently, designers sacrifice basic requirements for aesthetic reasons. This should not be the case in Dodoma and herein lies perhaps one of the greatest opportunities to create a new city that is in harmony with its total environment. This can be achieved not only by the means expressed above, but also through the application of basic principles, such as the orientation of buildings in relation to the prevailing breezes to preclude the use of air conditioning; also, buildings can be restricted in height to eliminate the need for costly elevators; and local building materials, which will be both economical and practical can be used for construction.

Finally, in addition to accommodating the National Government's ministries and agencies, the new city must generate substantial socioeconomic improvements for Tanzania's central regions. The TANU Headquarters and Parliament building complex, the national offices and institutions and the ceremonial features associated with the National Capital must be juxtaposed with the industries, commercial establishments and social institutions of a major regional centre. The government functions will give the city its initial impetus for rapid development, and experience in other countries suggests that this aspect of growth will gradually level off. The city's socio-economic functions related to the region and the country as a whole, on the other hand, will almost certainly cause it to expand indefinitely. The concept for the National Capital City must, therefore, incorporate a long-range growth strategy, which will allow it to respond to anticipated, as well as not yet known future requirements.

The city's function as a regional centre requires it to provide efficient and economical locations and services for industry and commerce, and for medical, educational and similar institutions. To be of optimum benefit for the people of the region, a much improved transportation system will be needed, which will link Dodoma's work places, shops and service facilities effectively with all parts of the region and the country.

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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.".