Lessons of Informality: Review in Journal of Landscape Architecture

We would like to thank Scott Melbourne for the great review of our book Lessons of Informality: Architecture and Urban Planning for Emerging Territories – Concepts from Ethiopia in the Journal of Landscape Architecture.

Excerpt from the review:
Outside agents not only have an opportunity to look to the future but also to make use of their perspective to recognize what under the present conditions is already working well and might offer a positive case study. This is the starting point for Lessons of Informality, where the focus on learning from the dynamics of Addis Ababa is explicitly stated in the title. This is not expressed as a false humility, but rather a recognition_an appreciation_of how important the informal is in Ethiopia’s rapidly growing capital city, and understanding that changes brought to that place in the interest of formalization ought not to be blindly adopted or always equated with progress. ‘Informality resembles an evolutionary process more than a simple absence of rules. In itself, informality is not illegal, dysfunctional, or indicative of poverty; in fact, its actors, skills and capital are probably our best chance to solve the world’s growing housing crises’ (p. 12).

Even more important to the trulymultimedia nature of the book is the inclusion of short films on DVD, tucked away in the back cover of the book. Through the introduction, the reader learns that these films, far from being an afterthought, in fact represent the origins of this project, with the book originally intended to be a more modestly scaled publication simply complementing the films. We can be grateful that in the end both text and moving image were embraced to complement each other. Most especially, the films vividly illustrate relationships between activity and space, with a sense of humanity less evident in the essays and indeed rarely to be found in academic writing. Considering the pace of change for a place like Addis Ababa, these videos will ultimately, inevitably, function as a kind of time capsule not just for this city and the spaces within it, but for ways of life that are in flux.”

The full review can be found here:
Melbourne, Scott Jennings. 2019. “Lessons of Informality: Architecture and Urban Planning for Emerging Territories – Concepts from Ethiopia / Metropolis Nonformal.” Journal of Landscape Architecture 14 (1): 94–95. https://doi.org/10.1080/18626033.2019.1623554.

The book can be found here.