Urban change and conflict in the traditional character of an African city: the example of Benin City, Nigeria

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Abstract:

Using a number of physical elements/built forms that were distinctive of Benin City during the pre-colonial period as a benchmark, the study establishes the traditional character of the city. It then examines changes in the economy and society as well as technology and their impacts on the character of the city through the colonial and post-colonial periods. The study shows that in spite of the significant impact of colonialism on the transformation of the urban structure, urban change had minimal impact on the character of the city during the colonial period. It shows, further, that massive changes which have taken place in the society, economy, and technology particularly since independence have, in the context of inadequate planning, resulted in considerable changes in the character of and, consequently, erosion of cultural values in the city. A number of measures including land use planning, urban design, legislative and financial provisions as well as cultural education are suggested for addressing the situation.

Keywords: built forms; character of cities; preservation; redevelopment; urban change

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02665430903145713

Affiliations: Department of Geography and Regional Planning, University of Benin, Benin City, Nigeria

Publication date: October 1, 2009

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