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© Photographs by Martin Zettel, September 2010.
Patrick Geddes, Valley Section: “Communities are the same everywhere. 1 detached house – farm. 2 Village. 3 Towns of various sorts (Industrial. Admin. Special). 4 Cities (multi functional).”
© Alison & Peter Smithson, Urban Structuring. Studies of Alison & Peter Smithson. Edited by John Lewis (London: Studio Vista, and New York: Reinhold Publishing Corporation, 1967), 19.
Lekki Free Trade Zone Road System Plan.
© Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 45
Author´s drawings, 2011. Ball pen on paper, 29,7 x 21 cm.
© Joost Meuwissen Archives, Amsterdam.
Author´s drawing, 1993. Ball pen on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm.
© Joost Meuwissen Archives, Amsterdam.
Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Design for a restoration of a mountain range, 1879.
© [Eugène Emmanuel] Viollet-le-Duc, Histoire d´un dessinateur. Comment on apprend à dessiner (Paris: J. Hetzel & Cie, [1879]), 273.
Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, [Cliffs.] The constitution of the chalk as demonstrated by the sea, 1879. Engraving.
© [Eugène Emmanuel] Viollet-le-Duc, Histoire d´un dessinateur. Comment on apprend à dessiner (Paris: J. Hetzel & Cie, [1879]), 179, Fig. 72.
Land Use and Infrastructure Master Plan for Draft Master Plan Report Lekki Free Trade Zone-Lagos-Nigeria, 2009.
© Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 14.
© Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 15, 10, and 13.
© Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 35 and 25.
Author´s drawing, 2011. Ball pen on paper, 29,7 x 21 cm.
© Joost Meuwissen Archives, Amsterdam.
Lekki Free Trade Zone Green Space Analysis Plan.
© Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 56.
Guy Debord and Asger Jorn, Guide psychogéographique de Paris, 1957
© Courtesy of the Rijksbureau voor Kunsthistorische Documentatie, The Hague.
25 under a soccer field. Parcelling of dwellings under a soccer field. Ground floor (left) and first floor (right). Leidsche Rijn study, commissioned by Projectbureau Leidsche Rijn and BVR, 1994-1995.
© Joost Meuwissen, 'Sechs unter einem Tennisplatz', UmBau 15/16. Edited and with a foreword by Irmgard Frank (Vienna: Österreichischer Wirtschaftsverlag, 1997), 96-120.
25 not under a soccer field. Parcelling a row of 200 seniors dwellings with gardens over a length of 200 meters results in one meter wide ‘stripe garden’ parcels and a gothic terraced building shape.
© Author´s drawing, 1996. Ball pen on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm., detail. Part of the master plan for the Maxglan-Stiegl/ASK area, Salzburg, Austria, 1996-1997. Joost Meuwissen Archives, Amsterdam.
Kandinskyplatz, author´s drawing, 1996. Ball pen on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm. Explanatory diagramme of the ‘garden stripe’ principle of parcelling, following Wassily Kandinsky´s Point and Line to Plane.
© Joost Meuwissen, ‘Stiegl/ASK Masterplan, Maxglan, Salzburg’, Spaces of Solitude. HDA Dokumente zur Architektur 9. Edited by Roland Ritter (Graz: Haus der Architektur, 1997), 98-105.
Coming Out Garden, 1996. Ball pen on paper, 29,7 x 21 cm. ‘Garden stripe’ parcelling as landscape painting form, particularly as an image of a plowed field, as in Jean François Millet´s The Angelus.
© Joost Meuwissen, ‘The Virtuous Horse or Empiricism In Urbanism’, Anyhow. Edited by Cynthia C. Davidson (New York, NY: Anyone Corporation. Cambridge, Mass., Londen: The MIT Press, 1998), 218-225.
© Photographs by Martin Zettel, September 2010.
Bernard Cache, The City of Lausanne.
© Bernard Cache, Earth Moves. The Furnishing of Territories. Edited by Michael Speaks, translated from the French by Anne Boyman (Cambridge, Mass.-London, England: The MIT Press, 1995), 10.
Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Modifications done to a mountaintop.
© Viollet-le-Duc, Le massif du Mont Blanc. Étude sur sa constitution géodésique et géologique sur ses transformations et sur l´état ancien et moderne des ses glaciers (Paris: J. Baudry, 1876), Fig. 36b.
Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Decomposition of the rombohedrals.
© Le massif du Mont Blanc, Fig. 47.
© Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 51-54.
© Lagos Blue Line Urban Rail Concession. Project Briefing Document. LAMATA. Lagos Metro. Lagos State Government. November 2008 (Lagos: LAMATA Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, 2008), 9.
Author´s drawings, 2011. Ball pen on paper, 21 x 29,7 cm.
© Joost Meuwissen Archives, Amsterdam.
© Lagos Blue Line Urban Rail Concession. Project Briefing Document. LAMATA. Lagos Metro. Lagos State Government. November 2008 (Lagos: LAMATA Lagos Metropolitan Area Transport Authority, 2008), 5, 13.


Posted 25 Apr 2012

Joost Meuwissen, ‘Lekki Peninsula, Lagos, Nigeria’, Lecture delivered at the Lagos Project 1.0. 1 Lekki Corridor and Lekki Free-Trade-Zone Town Planning Workshop at Graz University of Technology on January 16, 2012, and at the Lagos Project 1.0. 2 Iganmu-Badagry-Benin-Porto-Novo corridor and region (West African Highway) town planning design course at Graz University of Technology on April 25, 2012.

Lekki Peninsula, Lagos, Nigeria

Joost Meuwissen

To get the right assignments, i.e. the right questions to answer to, is crucial for the direction the workshop takes. I am saying this after reading the Lekki Free Trade Zone Master Plan document, which was sent to us by Prof. Igwe from the Lagos University. This is exactly the sort of planning I do not want you to do, since, despite its possible relevance to the area it is meant for, it is too technical an approach, and the various aspects of planning an area, such as traffic, water, and ecology, are handled completely separate or independent from each other, and the idea that a design itself might make a difference is almost completely lacking.
That does not mean that I am criticizing the Lekki Free Trade Zone Master Plan document for being too technical at all. On the contrary, it seems to be very realistic, and to be realistic and be to easily implement may be called a main goal of any town planning. I only mean that for study, research, and evaluation reasons, the answer to some doubts the Lekki planning document poses through its separate handling of technical functions would not be to make it more integrative. On the contrary, if technical issues are to be handled independently of one another, they might be even made more different than the way they are now, and town planning even might become more analytical than the way it just is now. Make it more free. Loosen it up. Shake it up. Analyze. Find the difference. Get the idea.

Design Assignments.
To make a design that fills in the Lekki Free Trade Zone Master Plan through an analysis of its predictable implementation, in order to reassure its sustainability, would thus afford, in my opinion,
1) a parceling scheme,
2) a circulation scheme,
3) a scheme for individual happiness as well as
4) grand designs of various types of gated building blocks. Since some of these assignments are somewhat new in the town planning discipline the way we know it so far, the adequate planning instruments might partially need be still developed or invented. That would mean that over the solutions for the area involved a contribution to the development of the discipline of town planning as a whole might or, if necessary, should be achieved. To such inventions accordingly,
5) an overall view of the city or its landscape, and of the development possibility within it, would be what I call ‘section’, which might be comparable to Patrick Geddes´ Valley Section, i.e. something comprehensive which is needed in order to be able to think a sustainable development as something differential. In his case, which is exactly a hundred years ago, this was called the ‘urban survey’, which was something completely new at the time, and is still completely valid today.[1] As far as our commission of today is concerned, I would call it ‘heaven’. Make heaven. When you are working in the area, to make heaven might prove to be the most important thing.

Parceling Plan.

Develop a plan for the whole area being possibly partially parceled, i.e. starting from a completely unparceled plan of the area towards an indication of the whereabouts or indeed spots where parceling might take place if parceling would take place. The idea is that if the Lekki Free Trade Zone scheme would be successfully realized, how the need-be-developed financial management of the area would look like after, say, forty years, and how a development towards a more formalized and prescribed economy might influence its town planning beforehand, so that the scheme itself, as it is now, would offer no hindrance for future economical and social developments. This means to develop a new design technique for town planning in general, which I call “gradual parceling” or “ingraining parceling”, i.e. not everything needs to be done at the same time.
For that, do parcel everywhere. Also when they are not used nor privately owned nor have a designated destination within a zoning scheme, they should be certified and be entered in a land register. The rationale of this would be that any piece of soil would get to become at disposal. As a simple bookkeeping exercise, that would have been installed beforehand, i.e. before conflicting interests could cause disputes over the land divisions, such a land register might be immune towards corruption, and the destinations of such pieces of land, whether not yet or already being private properties or not, might enforce a zoning scheme as a town planning tool by fragmenting it beforehand, instead of breaking through and up only afterwards. Thus, any zoning scheme would start from the real differences of life, and integrate them towards their getting their meaning as something valuable. 

Circulation Plan.

Develop a plan of going around, i.e. for no go or simply not going into the area or into parts of it. If these areas contain gated communities or if the whole of the area is a gated community, people who are not allowed to enter can only go round them; therefore, since a gated community generally might be handled as a roundabout, the whole of the area might be considered to consist of roundabouts big and small solely; please, do visualize such a roundabout world on the map. This means to develop a new design technique for town planning in general too.
It involves security. After some sort of security will be organized some way or another way within the gated communities or blocks, this leaves the question of the security outside the gate to be solved yet. The question might be, whether this so-called public security would be a public service, which would be afforded by a state police or a community police, or rather a natural social service, which would come from the landscape, a presence of trees or cultivated plants or crops, and pathways as well as throughways, i.e. agriculture, and the accompanying high-profile organization of markets, market places and churches. Historically, the neglect of agriculture as a main economic and social asset in most African countries might be deplored but on the other hand, the low status of agriculture might let it creep into everywhere as a stabilizing force. Do not call them slums; call them farms big or small.
The free trading within the free trade zone comes down to a free trading throughout the world as a whole, and the national borders around the free trading zone would be boundaries around the world – a sort of Chinese walls or Roman limeses. The Free Trade Zone is not a tiny part of a bigger world. It is the bigger world. Its boundaries would not be like walls around a prison, after such a prison is open to the rest of the world. This means, however, since they might be frontiers that are geographically well determined, that personal and financial transactions at the crossing of the landside borders of the Free Trading Zone will be highly organized, as to avoid corruption through a certain amount of organization by legalization.
Free Trading Zones are not a Romantic but a true and fine, practical though utopian Renaissance idea, upon which I shall elaborate later on. A Free Trade Area, however, is not a model to be generalized, since it would lose its attraction if it would be adopted everywhere. It depends on its staying an exception. Such a free trade, therefore, is not synonymous with a globalized economy. It is a historical thing, its content being to be able to travel around everywhere.

Plan of Private Happiness.

Develop a plan for private developments, or happiness, for that matter, such as housings, shops, and companies, within the public realm, which would come down to no more than reinforcing the existing Lekki Free Trade Zone scheme. This would not necessarily mean a densification, because the one private development might thrive another one away but it would lead to a differentiation of the development within the scheme, and might therefore, in turn, lead to an idea of the scheme itself. My Own Private Lekki Peninsula. This would be beyond the idea of the distinction between public and private, and might be somehow compared with the Occupy movement. Such an idea might be called a retro-active manifesto, and be presented as a town planning scheme.
In order to be able to grow, a private company or a private family is desperately in need of assets that might function as securities on which the financial means may be borrowed in order to create the possibility of private enterprise growth. To offer the possibility of private enterprises to grow might be a main goal of any planning, whether economical or spatial, i.e. to recognize people´s wealth, and to legalize it as the private property it is.[2] A proper town planning that is parceling may facilitate and contribute to such a legalization, whereas a twon planning that does not parcel or does not care about parceling might make private growth impossible, and might be a mere hindrance to it.
Agriculture, however, i.e. exploiting the richness of the soil in a French physiocratist sense, i.e. a production on the basis of what is available – the soil – a piece of land that would not get its value be realized if such a production would not take place, might better be not considered to be the sole way to development. In that respect, I do not propose agriculture itself as a solution to the problem of how to implement a Free Trade Zone such as this one. Yet purely as a way of thinking, however, might agriculture be adopted as a general way of considering things to be able to develop, i.e., for instance, to think of housings not as built volumes with a certain value but as occupying and therefore developing a certain piece of land, which means to consider the sixth façade of a house – the underside, the floor, the bottom or cellar side – to be utterly the most important one. In town planning, there is at least one device for that, in the way the New York skyscraper architect Raymond Hood described the formula of the skyscraper as a town planning concept: “The floor is of primary importance, because on the floor are performed all the activities of the human occupants,”[3] and thus envisaged a skyscraper as a multiplication of floor spaces but above all, and more importantly, as a possible diversification of the activities that are performed on the various floor spaces, which in turn is a difference which stems from the inside of the skyscraper not from its location, i.e. neither from its determination by its surroundings nor from its appearance from the outside;[4] the skyscraper is simply a dead-end street in the wrong direction: its floors are a refinement of parceling, such as the parceling of a blind alley in a city. In fact, skyscrapers are no more than blind alleys. Only seemingly towers, they are but dead ends. From the point of view of town planning, they are a part of a tree structure and do not contribute to the network-like life of a city. With a few exceptions, such as Manhattan, they also do not actually condense the city as is commonly understood, though. To parcel or, for that matter, to privatize might bring the disaster of vertical parceling back to the ground level and condense the city where it is most important, which is on ground level.

Grand designs of various types of gated building blocks.

A parceling might be considered to be a section too. That way, there is no difference between the horizontal and the vertical dimensions. It might therefore be important to install a representation model of the city with no hierarchy between the horizontal and the vertical, which definitely does not mean something spatial alike. It means building, and this means a voluminous, not a linear connection of separate volumes that are considered to be material. Even the fences, which are commonly considered to be material things, might be considered not as lines but as volumes, even if they are transparent by bars. The connection of the volumes might be approached from a kind of feeling of pressure, which is exerted by the pressure of development or the pressure of must-be-sustainable or forced-to-be so, which for instance might mean that a straight line might be better conceived of, and drawn, as a curve under pressure or as a pushing or pulling curve. Even a map may be seen as to have come into existence through pressure, like a whole world being pressed together to the flatness of a map. Also as for its content or subject matter, a fence may figure as an inflexion before it becomes the hindrance it is meant to be. Precisely since technical devices such as security, traffic, ecology, golf courses, happiness, time and the economy should be handled completely separately in order to be optimized, they require to be devised as being on the way to be absorbed, not integrated, by life. It is neither life nor building that makes a connection between a golf course and the ecology thing; it is you and me who make that connection. In its material, a building absorbs, rather than connects. Call it a sponge. Call building a sponge.
Whatever category may be used for such a distinction as between building or life on the one side and golf courses or time on the other, and whether building should not be also a technicality such as a golf course might be labeled as, is a highly theoretical question, as any category is which may be derived from the architectural theories, and should therefore better be discussed in that direction. For us at the moment it would be sufficient to say that the technicalities are attributes, whereas the building is a substance. With some doubts, the activity of building to be a substance for architects and town planners might be taken for granted but this would not mean that it is a substance for everybody, architects and not-architects as well. Yet, somewhere in its materiality, a building may be the subject matter or theme which is desperately needed to develop a contemporary architectural style, as was prompted by Patrik Schumacher´s Parametricism.[5] Or, in order to make a curved architecture or town planning, you have to design a curve – any curve – from within that curve, and not only apply it as an already existing shape from the outside. Along the concept of a building as a substance or a sponge a curved architecture might be designed on the basis of the moments of inflections of such curves within that very sponge.

General comments on the Lekki Free Trade Zone Master Plan.
It is a generic planning document meant for a highly specific area. The generic character of the planning document may make its realization easily possible everywhere in the world. If you take a look at the plan, it might even have been meant for Abu Dhabi, for Jordan, Amsterdam, New Ordos in China or Aspern Seestadt in Vienna also. Economics and law are translated into a general geometrical, almost bookkeeping scheme, which assures its implementation on any level and at any time. At first sight, it is a generic, rather dumb scheme, and that is okay. Now it might be important, from the procedural planning point of view, to not introduce too much content, such as political or design ideas, into a scheme such as this one, for they might turn out to be obstacles on the scheme route towards realization, in this case, moreover, towards the implementation by use or function after its realization. Such has been the discussion in town planning since the 1960s: a generic, law-according scheme might be easily implemented but only if it is not too open to change. It must have been fixed somehow, and the expectations about its realization should not change during the process of realization. If a scheme is too open, it cannot be agreed upon, because nobody would know on what to agree. If, on the other hand, it is highly specific, it might be agreed upon but might not be realizable because even minor adjustments of its parts cannot be made without the consent of all the parties that were involved in permitting the scheme as a legal planning document as a whole. Therefore, geometry marches in, since nobody seems to disagree with geometry. I do, however. Some people do.
By this I mean I do not disapprove of geometry in general but I do not like its easy adoption into town planning schemes, because it might rule out other, better, possibilities. A soil need not be parceled by meters, it might be also parceled by knife. On the other hand, to parcel might be better than to not parcel at all, not only because of “the principle of consolidated land use”, which is at the basis of Lagos town planning (and which is a political item that should not be underestimated), also in the Lekki Free Trade Zone scheme, but also because it makes private property of the pieces of land more easy – although, you might discuss this last point, for it might turn out also, that at a not-parceled area it might be easier to handle over the property rights to the people who live there than in the case of an area which is already parceled before i.e. which already has its private properties, though not often owned by the people who live there. Since this might imply another political question though, it is easy to understand why this is left out from the Lekki Free Trade Zone Planning document. It would be a hindrance towards realization. But actually, the building blocks of the Lekki Free Trade Zone Planning might still be thought of as not being parceled at all, which might be a very interesting point of view, when handling them. The Master Plan shows a general geometry of main roads, not of parcels, i.e. of extensions along extending lines, not of surfaces themselves extending.
The whole of the Lekki Peninsula scheme depends on grid systems which are independent of one another but are bending along and with the lines of traffic arteries – roads or canals –which more or less follow the directions of the landscape of the lagoon, which tends, wherever possible, to be translated into some sort of checkerboard system. In some obscure and unknown way, God has created the geography of this landscape as an almost perfect North-South and East-West orientated rectangular Mercator provision. It is this mere coincidence that facilitates the logic appearance of geometry at the site, which can be seen as a general appearance of the points of the compass, its reason being natural all over the world. These traffic artery lines are either surrounding a grid as its circumference or determining that grid by forming an axis cutting through the grid somewhere in the middle of it, thus making it possible to differentiate the grid, which is the case at the Free Trade Zone, which has its dumb Cartesian appearance south of the cutting-through main road cutting, and the more clever bends towards the lagoon in the north.
Only one of the grid lines at the Lekki Free Trade Zone really bends around and turns in the other direction but the radial system, which over here might have come into being is only reluctantly supported by the outer east-west orientated grid artery line along the lagoon, which somehow bends together with the bending of this more inner line. The points of inflection of both lines are somehow dissolved into the landscape thing as something existing once and for all, the golf course becoming the ultimate destination of such an ever existing nature. It is a pity that the inflections are not used as a design tool at all. They are only handled as accidents. Whenever the landscape marches in, it functions here as nature or as a hindrance or as nature itself as a hindrance. This point may be discussed still at length, though.
In the whole of the rectangular linear system, the bends or curves are conceived of as being exceptions caused by the landscape thing. Along a central north-south axis in the central part of the Lekki development scheme, which you may see at the extreme left of the image of the Land Use and Infrastructure Master Plan, and which is intersected by the main East-West artery line that bends towards the middle of this part of the system, the grid reluctantly differentiates itself into some sort of circular or radiant secondary system, from the radiance of which it is possible to shape some sort of half-circular sort of crescent towards the Atlantic Ocean. In general, the oceanic coast line is only represented within the logic of the Master Plan through some points, and not as a line or only as a coastal line serving as an opportunity for making a coastal road which does not derive its meaning from its lying at the seaside, though. The coastal road or rather, the road that runs parallel to the coastal line, actually functions as any road does, i.e. as a way of development, along which huts are built, organically or linearly expanding from the inner city towards the East. In the town planning scheme, the points along the coast seem to tend to be small harbours or drainage or sewing system outlets. All of those harbours, including the one at the end of the canal besides the Free Trade Zone area, seem to be far too small to serve as ports for transfer and delivery of oil and other goods worldwide, the way they are presented (which makes the oil storage zone within the Lekki Free Trade Zone into a questionable function). Anyhow, the Atlantic Ocean is not thematized by and within the Master Plan.
It may be argued that a Free Trading Zone is not about housing for the people but for trading companies, which must be exactly the case. Nevertheless the bird´s eye view shows a smooth transition of equally-sized volumes from warehouses in the distance, which are conceived of as buildings or, on might say, building blocks which are completely filled-in, which just by sheer size fill the left-over space between the roads, just as a swimming-pool is filled with water, towards building blocks that do have inner courts, which might be meant for businesses, up to open slabs at the foreground of the bird´s eye view, which might be destined for housing, and are in a way grouped around inner courts which are one-sidedly open. Typologically they may be compared to Viennese court housings – Höfe – for it seems that the use of those inner courts is not meant to be private.[6] In the middle of the northern part of the scheme, near the main road connection, high-rise buildings in the shape of towers or skyscrapers always rise from the middle of a lower building volume and never rise directly from the ground level, which means or by the way could mean that the towers are not meant for general public use. In general, what we see here, is a development, which contains all possible urban elements and therefore might be considered to be a city, which looks like a city but is not one:
The land use planning is made based on the concept plan of the Lekki FTZ in Nigeria and
the adjustment of the industrial and regional functions and orientation of the Cooperation Zone in accordance with the principle of consolidated land use, and fully taking advantage of the natural environment and basic condition of the site. The land for public facilities is assigned
along the L4 Road, including office, business, entertainment, hospital, school, sports facilities, etc. The H8 Road will serve as boundary line, the south of which is mainly planned for industry land, including industrial land and oil storage land and two plots of dormitary land provided for the staff. The north of H8 Road is mainly used for building residential quarters and communities by integrating with good natural resources, city golf course and ecological wetland.” (Addendum to the Master Plan of China-Nigeria Economic and Trade Cooperative Zone of Lekki FTZ, Nigeria, 2009.03, 45.)
All those functions, however, must depend on the companies that will rent the land or on the overall cooperation company that will own it, and the residential areas which the scheme provides for are either dormitories or privately-owned gated communities. There is nothing wrong with that but what is new about this development is its linking up with the actual business areas, warehouse areas, the canal, the way to the port, the lagoon, and the sea, to provide a wholeness, thus role-modeling a part of the city of Lagos as a city on its own which might be almost self-sufficient, and thus might be a format for the city as a whole – or society as a whole, for that matter. The difference to gated communities such as Celebration, Florida, which plays city without being one, just by only looking like one, is that the Lekki Free Trade Zone Master Plan plays part of a city, and seems to be open to its surroundings, whereas in fact all its functions are closed to the public. You may argue that it is quite a normal industrial park but with residential areas. The quoted lines from the Addendum make  quite clear that the residential areas in the middle of the schemes are dormitories for the staff members of the companies at that part of the scheme. You may ask which staff members are meant. The residential areas at the northern part, however, might be meant for not-staff-members but their openness would not inevitably mean an openness to a general public. The planning scheme does not give a clue whatsoever on what percentage of residents would work at the companies in the area, as staff members or employees, and what percentage of residents would have no economical ties to the area at all but would live there for the reason of a pleasant accommodation, the shops nearby, the golf course etc. Then, in the second place, such areas inevitably will be gated.
Apart from the parceling and landownership issue, it might be interesting to linger upon the gate issue (gated houses, gated streets, gated building blocks, gated green areas, gated shopping malls or, at the bigger scale, gated blocks of gated neighbourhoods). A gated thing needs no parceling but an area, once parceled, might be gated afterwards. As for the development of the discipline of architecture in the past, the gate, whether temporary or permanent, was a major assignment till the end of the eighteenth century.
Nevertheless, it might be interesting to try to parcel this principally unparcelled piece of land, i.e. to see what might happen when the infrastructure of roads, sewing system and bus transport system will be there but with still no impart by either companies nor people.

An overall view of the city or its landscape.

Any assignment should come from an idea, and my idea in this case would be that we need something in-between map and vista, or between plan and section. My first guess was, staring at the Lekki Peninsula map, what we really need is something developing in some sort of diagonal sense. This sounds silly. It is silly – but anyhow. In Lagos, there seems to be a certain lack of verticality – I do not mean towers such as in the business districts but a feeling, an awe of height. Of heaven. My assignment would be to lay Patrick Geddes´s Valley Section horizontally on the map of the Lekki peninsula – or horizontally over Lagos as whole, but more important, put it over the Peninsula, of course in the transversal direction – in the peninsula´s cross-section direction and look what happens. Let happen what then happens.
And second, after my guess were that the Western Corridor at Lagos might be more important for a worldwide improvement of urbanism as a science than the Eastern Corridor on the Lekki Peninsula is, it is simply because it has less landscape. Landscape is the worst metaphor in urbanism ever, the notion of landscape is a real obstacle to get a knowledge over things. It is only politically correct because it is generally considered to be good, it is such a boring notion, and it has all sorts of ecology annotations, which by the way are okay anyway. Ecology is always politically correct as long as you do not dispute about specific, site-bound ecologies. But the best way to design in town planning still is to forget about the landscape thing. Skip landscape. And that might have been easier to do along the Western Corridor, which is also already more urbanized. So this second theme would be: make a map of all the relations and things which are there but with no map. A mapless map. This should not be about organization, it should be about beauty. The beauty of the city in all its traits. Not an organigram but a diagram of beauty. Remove geography, leave out geography. And that would have been much more easier in the Western Corridor, since it seems to have less geography, and less landscape. It is more free. You have to define the extendibility of the city by yourself. It still is along a line, the Western Expressway, but this line has points or stations, for that matter. One of those points is called Volkswagen. After the Volkswagen plant was closed, design a Volkswagen idea for the Volkswagen train stop, the beauty of the original Volkswagen being that it had no rear window at all, for since people should drive forward, they need not look out from the window at the back. Skip the rear window. Do not look back. Then you get an idea and a late understanding of the shape of Volkswagen.
Thirdly, formalize. Since urbanism is a way of formalization, use urbanism to formalize all the things that usually would not be formalized through urbanism, that might be formalized through other fields of expertise such as economics or by law but mostly are not formalized to the extent that it might improve the daily life. Of course, urbanism is not more about daily life than economics or law are, on the contrary, but is a an existing way of formalization, be it through parcelling or determining the place of railway stations or the course of sewing systems and so on. Use urbanism as a social tool, simply because urbanism exists. If you would manage to get along without maps, the resulting thing is: soil. Or garbage on soil or the underground drainage and sewing systems. Then, after you have discovered the soil, give the soil to the people, such as Daniel Ortega does in Nicaragua. They own the soil anyhow, they already do so by being there. Formalize the people´s properties. Accordingly, the town planning scheme is not a plan which represents the parceling of land but a nebulous cloud of properties onto which you might zoom in to get the sharper vision. This would be the opposite from the clearance and cleansing practices any town planning scheme in its implementation in any part of the world would cause. Ordinary urbanism causes harm to the people who are living there. The answer is simple: do not practice ordinary urbanism. Any Lagos site demands for extra-ordinary urbanistic diagrams.
As for geography as a narrative drawing method, Bernard Cache´s chapter on “Territorial Image” in his Earth Moves. The Furnishing of Territories (Cambridge, Mass.: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1995), 4-19, may be highly informative, because in his method of drawing no distinction whatever is made between plan and section. It is all about curves. Now, since it curves, a landscape may be approached at as being also about curves, so in imagining and representing a landscape or seascape or townscape for that matter, it might be interesting to curve instead of to geometricize, and to have curved-representation-maps instead of rigid geometrical geographical ones. This point is still not thematized in Parametricism, which still works on the basis of linearly extending two-dimensional planes or surfaces into three-dimensional fluent geometries. I think you might notice this methodological obstacle above all in the town planning schemes which Patrik Schumacher shows as examples of Parametricist urbanism, in that they represent curved results upon a virtual flat plane or geographical extendibility without conceiving of this flatness as an inflection. One might say, that the basis of a theory of curvature in architecture and urbanism would better be the inflection than a mere curving of the curvature, and that bringing in or to consider inflections on a map would not be to find inflected lines on such a map but to see the map itself as an inflection, i.e. as a section. In his analysis of the topography of Lausanne, Switzerland, Bernard Cache mainly elaborates upon the landscape section, rather than upon the maps. In urbanism, this goes back to Patrick Geddes´s ‘Valley Section’, doubtlessly the most important document or diagram from twentieth century urbanism. It contains everything: the geography, the trees, the river, the summits, the slopes, the sky. The sky is mostly a thing forgotten in urbanism because urbanism usually elaborates on maps, plans, Grundrisse. That way, urbanism is just a way of looking at Google Earth from the sky and through it, and not looking at the sky itself at the same time. The Valley Section, on the contrary, even absorbs the sky in its representation. Its image is comprehensive, a comprehensive one, not of a certain geographical area, not of some territory but first of all of territory as such. Territoriality may be better represented through section, rather than through map. This concerns a method of handling any given situation, and therefore might be used upon flatland also. Thus, the city of Lagos might be represented in section, rather than plan.
In turn, in history, Geddes´s Valley Section might have been a recurrence to the earth as a God-given thing consisting of ever more eroding surfaces, which we call the Alps, mountains, river beds or architectures. This is a very important point to be considered. The section method makes no distinction between river beds and architectures, because everything is cut through. That is the difference between a section, which is a mental construct, because it is basically a line on the one hand and on the other hand a plan or a geographical map which represents a plane which is just naturally, and not architecturally, for that matter, extending into every direction. It does not matter that in Geddes´s Valley Section the architectures seem to be applied to the section as if they are images as viewed from the outside, since the whole of the section might also be seen as a view – which is somehow related to the secret code of the section in the history of architectural drawing, after the depths of its various spaces, sometimes even the soil and the building materials that are cut through are represented as being completely equal in being equally blank all of them. That is a difference from sections in sciences such as medicine, biology, and mechanical engineering that more or less diagrammatically represent the real thing, whereas an architectural section, since it always differentiates between an inside and an outside, both of which are represented equally though, is at the same time an exercise in imageless thinking, called tectonics or its absence.[7]
The discovery by the French nineteenth century restoration and national heritage architect Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc was that the soil does not only have depth, it has a surface too. It can be seen. It wrinkles. It differentiates. It deteriorates. It fragmentizes. It parcels. It does so in its materiality but the fragmented shape is surface, seemingly almost also independent of its materiality. Please, do not call it ‘the skin of the earth’. It is superficial. It is dumb. Such being dumb is the power of aesthetics. The surface is freed from its depth, from materiality, from geology, and therefore can become a private property or an architecture too.[8] Like architecture, the mountains are common sense, they are always your mountains as well as my mountains. They are not a general property or genuine state property but individual properties, owned by many people. By you and me. But not by him or her. The same goes for flatland.
You might guess that out of the three possible section proposals from the Lekki Free Trade Zone Master Plan the most flat one or the least natural one will be chosen, since it might be disposable for all kinds of unpredictable futures but it is not empty. It may be subject of erosion through parceling or rather, parceling or private ownership might be considered to be a process of erosion.
You may think, when you look at a map in general, that the land is more important than the water or the brown is more important than the blue, because the land is accessible. It has roads. The water has no roads. Obviously, the sea has no roads on the map or mostly has not. In maps from the seventeenth century this meant however that the sea was far more accessible than the land, since it had no roads at all. Moreover, the land roads were mostly more dangerous than the water was, since you could not escape from a road – which is still the case at roads. In a way, roads are gated communities rather unsafe. The sea, however, being fully accessible by its own, had no need of roads. It had no need of material infrastructure or seemed to not have such a need. It is its own infrastructure of its own. It only needed visual infrastructure through technicalities such as measuring the distances. For the Dutch at the time, the sea were therefore free – mare liberum (1609).
Accordingly, the maps are essentially water maps, in which there is only water and coastline. The coastline is a landfront, not a waterfront, since the water was not observed from the shore. Nobody would stand on the beach and enjoy the view of the sea. There was no seaside. As a landfront, the geography of such a part of the world thus became represented as an event, though. We know what kind of events came out of it shortly after the seventeenth century but this should not distract from the historical evidence that the idea of maps was initially and in principle not about dividing the land, parceling towns, or discriminating through zoning, for that matter. The cartographic idea was events developing over time, not space, circumference instead of plane, surface instead of content, ichnography instead of geography[9].

Do not idealise the informal economics, as Rem Koolhaas may have done.[10] From his words that we do not know how Lagos works but we do know that it works, I would say, we thus definitely should eagerly want to know something about the way it works, thus may be apt to recognise its assets, and then divert these assets into that direction that it will work even better.
There is a difference in thinking such an improvement as being forced upon from the outside from a thinking of such improvements as coming from the inside, i.e. from the development such as it actually takes place. The latter one you might call the inner force or the critical mass of the actual urban development. Nobody will deny that Lagos has a critical mass in such a way that things are also waiting for a change and could be changed or overthrown very easily at any time. But then, on the basis of the same existing ‘critical mass’, change itself may be overthrown and done away with. That is the real situation as it is and that is a pity. This would be the stagnation which can be observed everywhere within the city. By stagnation, I do not mean that there is no growth of population taking place. By that I do mean, however, that the population growth may be represented in the planning documents but at the same time the very question of how or in what way this representation might contribute to the urban planning remains unanswered. Because the question then would be: what change? Or: what kind of change. This issue may be not very easy to understand or solve, so I shall try to explain this, and somewhat elaborate upon it a bit more.
This does not mean that it does not work or does not well enough so; and it also does not imply what may be called an improvement planning but it may imply some sort of portraying of the existing situation. Urban planning is not only a way of organising what should be done and what should come, it is also a way of representing.
From an understanding of past developments, Lagos town planners would be seduced to think the development of their city in a linear way, along lines of development such as highways and railways. The very reason, why highways and railways are considered to be lines not things might have been discussed as well but it is not. In Lagos, from the point of view of urban development in the past, the highways and railways might have been envisaged as networks instead of lines from the very beginning. Since this is unfortunately not the case, due to a lack of urban planning and responsibility during the colonial times, it does not mean that the existing infrastructure system and its development in the near future, although consisting of lines, should not be considered as being networks. If you would consider the highway and railway structures as being the networks they are in the way they are functioning actually, the geographical representations of Lagos as a city developing along lines to the North, the West, and the East, might be considered as being false representations of the real city shape. The maps are false, since they are conceived of at such a scale as not representing the city as it is or as it functions, for that matter. Forget these maps, and concentrate upon the actual developments.
The given geography would divert the attention away from the actual centres of development, which might have been developed along the infrastructure lines but are not linearly structured themselves. They are rather structured from within, from their centres that are somewhere in the middle of them. Call it enclaves. Call it either ghettos or gated communities. From the urban point of view, that way there is no distinction between enclaves for the poor and such ones for the rich.

[1]  Patrick Geddes, Cities in Evolution. An Introduction to the Town Planning Movement and to the Study of Civics. With a new Introduction by Percy Johnson-Marshall (New York: Howard Fertig, 1968), 356-357: “The following general outline of the main headings of such an inquiry admits of adaptation and extension to the individuality and special conditions of each town and city.

Situation, Topography, and Natural Advantages:

(a)  Geology, Climate, Water Supply, etc.

(b)  Soils, with Vegetation, Animal Life, etc.

(c)  River or Sea Fisheries.

(d) Access to Nature (Sea Coast, etc.).

Means of Communication, Land and Water:

(a)  Natural and Historic.

(b)  Present State.

(c)  Anticipated Developments.

Industries, Manufactures, and Commerce:

(a)  Native Industries.

(b)  Manufactures.

(c)  Commerce.

(d) Anticipated Developments.


(a)  Movement.

(b)  Occupations.

(c)  Health.

(d)  Density.

(e)  Distribution of Well-being (Family Conditions, etc.).

(f)   Education and Culture Agencies.

(g)  Anticipated Requirements.

Town Conditions:

(a)  Historical: Phase by Phase, from Origins onwards. Material Survivals and Associations, etc.

(b)  Recent: Particularly since 1832 Survey, thus indicating Areas, Lines of Growth and Expansion, and Local Changes under Modern Conditions, e.g., of Streets, Open Spaces, Amenity; etc.

(c)  Local Government Areas (Municipal, Parochial, etc.).

(d)  Present: Existing Town Plans, in general and detail.

Streets and Boulevards.

Open Spaces, Parks, etc.

Internal Communications, etc.

Water, Drainage, Lighting, Electricity, etc.

Housing and Sanitation (of localities in detail).

Existing activities towards Civic Betterment, both Municipal and Private.

Town Planning; Suggestions and Designs:

(A)  Examples from other Towns and Cities, British and Foreign.

(B)  Contributions and Suggestions towards Town Planning Scheme, as regards:

(a)  Areas.

(b)  Possibilities of Town Expansion (Suburbs, etc.).

(c)  Possibilities of City Improvement and Development.

(d)  Suggested Treatments of these in detail (alternatives when possible).”


[2]  Hernando de Soto, ‘Egypt's Economic Apartheid. More than 90% of Egyptians hold their property without legal title. No wonder they can't build wealth and have lost hope’,The Wall Street Journal, February 3, 2011.


[3]  Arthur Tappan North, Raymond M Hood (New York: Whittlesey House, 1931), 8, quoted by Rem Koolhaas, Delirious New York. A Retroactive Manifesto for Manhattan (Londen: Thames and Hudson, 1978), 130.


[4]  There is a difference between Raymond Hood´s skyscraper formula and Louis Sullivan´s more well-known ‘form follows function’. While Raymond Hood aimed at activities, i.e. at a production of goods and values, Sullivan still considered the skyscraper as being ‘sterile’ in the French physiocratic sense, i.e. as no longer being soil nor earth, and therefore not being able to function as a source of producing anything of value anymore. See Thomas A.P. van Leeuwen, The Skyward Trend of Thought. The Metaphysics of the American Skyscraper (Cambridge, Massachusetts: The MIT Press, 1988), 119-124.


[5]  Patrik Schumacher, ‘Parametric Diagrammes’, The Diagrams of Architecture. AD Reader. Edited by Mark Garcia (Chichester: John Wiley & Sons, 2010), 260-269.


[6]  According to the definition of the Viennese court-housing block by Daniel Glaser, Freie Räume. Strategien für den Wiener Block (Vienna: Sonderzahl Verlagsgesellschaft, 2011), 13-14.


[7]  This conception of architectural drawing as a way of non-representational dealing with reality was put forward by Carl Linfert, ‘Die Grundlagen der Architekturzeichnung. (Mit einem Versuch über französische Architekturzeichnungen des 18. Jahrhunderts)’, Kunstwissenschaftliche Forschungen. Erster Band. Edited by Otto Pacht (Berlin: Frankfurter Verlags-Anstalt, 1931), 133-246.


[8]  Eugene Emmanuel Viollet-le-Duc, Mont Blanc. A Treatise on its Geodesical and Geological Constitution; its Transformations; and the Ancient and Recent State of its Glaciers. Translated from the French by Benjamin Bucknall (London: Sampson Low, Marston, Searle, & Rivington, 1877).

[9]  John A. Pinto, ‘Origins and Development of the Ichnographic City Plan’, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians. Vol. 35, No. 1, March, 1976 (Berkeley, CA: University of California Press, 1976), 35-50.

[10]  Matthew Gandy, ‘Learning from Lagos’, New Left Review 33. May June 2005 (London: New Left Review, 2005), 37-52.

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