Interlocking Shophouses for Zimbabwe

Last year, the Mayor of Harare, Zimbabwe, invited DT Group of Companies to give a talk at their "40-year Vision” master plan workshop. I’m privileged to be hosted by the Mayor, Mr. Masunda, in envisioning a new master plan for the capital of Zimbabwe along with Gensler and the University of Pennsylvania. That was my first visit to Africa. Professor David Gouverneur from the University of Pennsylvania strongly suggested to the Mayor that \"mix-used zoning” should be created to foster economic growth and tax collection. Indeed, shortly after the workshop the director of Harare urban planning department did proposed a new plan to create\"mix-used zoning” within inner city districts. This type of
zoning never officially existed in Harare; all districts were zoned by the
British as \"single use” zones.


compliment the idea mix-used zoning, I’ve introduced a new type of shophouse
that could increase business activities in the inner city area. (Figure I)


shophouses could increase economic activities within a given district. The 1stfloor retail is connected to 3rd floor residential unit while the 2ndfloor retail is connected to 4th floor residential unit.


do we need to create such high density dwelling units?


day, over 1 million migrant sellers poured into the city to sell goods; at
night they simply departed,” says Mr. Chiwanga,
the director of the planning department. \"As a city, we have to support a million people
coming in and out every day,” he shakes his head. \"And they’re not paying
taxes! The city infrastructure cannot sustain itself this way.”


Harare, people have no place to store things; 1 million people migrated to
Harare each day to sell their produces on the streets. During the day, the
population of Harare rises over 3 million; at night it drops to 2 million.


So the
immediate problem now is to create an infrastructure that could provide both
living space and storage space for commercial goods in the city. A mix-used
zoning for live-work shophouses is an ideal solution to the problem.

In late 19thcentury America, immigrant communities such as Chinese, Jews, and Italian had
been known to make use of various forms of shophouse prototypes. But these
prototypes were limited to immigrant communities and not to the mainstream

Ni Yu Laew Ruey!” (\"This house will make you rich”) is a typical saying in
Bangkok when migrant workers moved into their new houses in the city. They
expected their new houses to act as income generators as well as places that
protect them from rain and sun. The house is an instrument for making a living.


immigrants often started off as street sellers in the city; when they have
accumulated enough customers, they would open a shophouse so that they could,
in turn, store more products and gain more customers. The cycles continued
until they became successful and influential figures in their community.


A shophouse is a building typology that could provide a
stable foothold for micro-entrepreneurs in the urban core. The
micro-entrepreneurs, in turn, provide direct distribution channel for their relatives
in the rural area. It enables agro-based families to flourish without having to
move in and out of the city every day.