Around the World in 3 Cities.


The week 6 lecture was titled, “Around the World in 8 Cities” and consisted of Mirko providing various insights and investigations into the urban landscape of 8 cities from various corners of the globe. As a result, i have decided to conduct my own personal investigations into 3 cities that i have visited, each on a different continent and boasting different cultural values and climates.

HARARE, Zimbabwe


Harare skyline-
Image sourced from:

My hometown of Harare, is the capital city of Zimbabwe, a small country in Southern Africa. Previously known as Rhodesia, Zimbabwe was originally an English colony and this can explain the planned nature of its cities. Harare, is a fairly small city in comparison to the others investigated, and the city centre follows a strict grid pattern. The outer suburbs are not are rigid and vary between panned and more organic layouts. One particularly interesting aspect of the city layout is the clear racial segregation that exists because of the old English government and their policies. This resulted in a predominantly Caucasian and upper class area in the Northern and Western suburbs. The government segregated Africans, Asians and Caucasians into various parts of the city and this divide still exists today, as each group has made the area its own.

This is particularly evident in a suburb known as Ridgeview, the “Asian” area. The residents of this suburb were predominantly of Indian descent and either Muslims or Hindus. As a result, the suburb now boasts a number of Mosques and Hindu Temples and a clear sense of community is present within the suburb.

Most services can be found in the outer suburbs and there is almost a multi-nuclei like layout. This is particularly evident in the upper class suburbs where large super markets and shopping centers provide all the required facilities and amenities.

The cityscape itself is not particularly developed. There are very few high rise buildings and the city centre is dominated by two or three story buildings, usually a combination of shops and residency. As can be expected of a third world country, services are very limited and the majority of transport is either by bus, taxi or by foot. This creates very busy streets and sidewalks within the city centre.

NEW YORK, United States of America

I visited Manhattan recently and was taken aback by the strict grid pattern of the streets. The layout and naming system made navigating the island very easy and it would be almost impossible to do so without it.

I found the building typology to unique and like nothing i had ever seen before. I did not encounter one single story building in my time there and high density living and working environment is clearly evident. The Medium rise area around Soho and Tribeca provides some release from the immense sky scrapers, however, it is still a developed urban environment. In this area the large grid pattern in altered slightly to suit the shape of the island, however, a grid pattern is still clearly evident.


Kuala Lumpur is the capital city of Malaysia and is very organic in its design. The city displays something of a multi-nuclei layout, with various districts such as the political district of Putra Jaya located a short distance from the KL city centre. The organic nature of the streets makes the urban landscape very hard to navigate. There are a large number of green spaces and open parks and squares within the city which suit the tropical climate and provide a welcome respite from the concrete streets. The outer suburbs to present some semi planned spaces, however, the majority of the city is dominated by small organic road systems. The building typology within the city, is dominated by high rise commercial and residential buildings. These high rise apartment buildings also carry out into the outer suburbs and high density living is the norm.

The district of Putra Jaya is one space that was definitely, carefully planned. The district is home to the majority of KL’s government and cultural buildings and is constructed along an axis which runs from the Prime Ministers office, to the Putra Jaya International Convention Centre. This area is notable newer than the rest of KL and this is clearly shown in the building typology.

Putra Jaya Axis. Image taken by author.

Putra Jaya Axis.
Image taken by author.

Through this brief investigation of 3 cities from around the world, i have established the vast differences in the urban landscapes that exist between cities. The undeveloped nature of Harare, provides a stark contrast to the established built forms of New York. While the rigid grid pattern of New York seems almost alien when compared to the organic street systems of Kuala Lumpur. 


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