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Providing support for the development of an urbanism competition and in reflections about the challenges and perspectives for the evolution of the city
Autumn 2012

Having participated in the organisation of the competition, "Kaboul 2050-Kabul 1044, a multi-faceted capital" and provided methodological support to students, Groupe URD will be part of the competition jury and take part in a final seminar on the challengers facing Kabul for the future. The seminar will bring together numerous Afghan organizations, institutions, academics, architects, municipal planners and urban developers.

 Presentation of the competition and the “Culture et patrimoine” event

Groupe URD was involved in setting up and launching the competition “Kabul 2050”, an initiative of the Institut Français d’Afghanistan (IFA) as part of the "Culture et Patrimoine" event which will run till the end of 2012 and which includes three parts:

  • An exhibition of old photos of Kabul in several locations in the city (City Council, Babur Garden, IFA);
  • An urbanism competition;
  • Round tables, which will take place in December, on the challenges of reconstructing Kabul, to coincide with the end of the competition.

The competition is aimed at the students of Kabul University’s Architecture Department and the Polytechnical University of Kabul’s Architecture and Engineering Departments and has been included in their respective courses. It is aimed at raising awareness, notably among the students and their teachers, about the challenges for the future of their city while analyzing the current situation.

Under the direction of the French Embassy to Afghanistan in Kabul, the competition is being run in partnership with local institutions: the Afghan Culture Ministry, the City of Kabul, Kabul University, the Polytechnical University of Kabul, the Ministry of Urbanism and the Aga Khan Trust for Culture.

This has been a very interesting exercise as it has led to collective and participatory reflection and has allowed local actors to make technical proposals/forecasts for their future which are adapted to their context.

 Groupe URD’s role

Groupe URD’s involvement has included methodological and participatory support, providing the students and teachers with guidance concerning the key issues involved in the future development of the city of Kabul without being restricted by the blockages and difficulties of the current situation. The issues covered were how to carry out an urban assessment and how to establish a vision, a programme and an urban development strategy. In parallel, meetings with teachers and certain institutional partners also took place.

Having taken part in the launch of the competition, Groupe URD will also be a jury member and will take part in the final seminar in December 2012, where the participants will discuss the challenges facing Kabul for the future.

The two main questions that will be discussed at the two round tables introduced by Bernard Bajolet, the French Ambassador in Afghanistan, Arnaud Dornon, Director of the IFA and Cooperation and Cultural Affairs Adviser, Hassan Abdulhai, the Minister of Urban Development and Muhammad Nawandesh, the Mayor of Kabul will be “How should the city be conceived?” and “How should the city be built?”.

Groupe URD will focus on the question, “How should the city be conceived?” (beyond the difficulties of the present), based on its knowledge of post-crisis recovery in cities affected by different hazards.

More generally, the urbanism competition and the related discussions raise the following question :

What might the city of Kabul be like in 50 years ?
“All cities are in perpetual motion, with their own specific phases and conditions. Kabul is one of those cities, like Sarajevo, Beirut and so many others, which is rising from its ashes after several years of war and conflict. This renaissance is taking place at the same time as urban development which has seen the population of the city rising from 1 million to between 4 and 5 million. It is 2011; the citizens of Kabul should consider the future of their city and its future urbanity while taking the current situation into account. Is there a genuine strategy for the functional, symbolic and formal regeneration of the city to the benefit of its citizens? Is it possible to develop Kabul taking into account current needs without compromising those of future generations? The issues at stake are complex and important and deserve reflection”. (Guilda Chahverdi, IFA, Kabul, September 2012).