Urbanism currently seems to be fixated on the rapidly expanding contexts of Asia and the middle east, whether it be through the new found commercialism of China and it's desire to modernise and compete, or whether it be through the oil fuelled steriod pumped expansion of Dubai into uncharted realms of height and even new worlds. Even study of the phenomenon of shrinking cities in Europes industrial North seems to have been sidetracked for the glamour of the latest OMA masterplan. I note that even OMA itself is split by this, with Ole Scheeren splitting from the firm, potentially to move out of Asia with the main business still led by Koolhaas very much pushing on.
In this context, it's interesting to pause and take stock. A new exhibition at London's Design Museum opening on 31st March shows a body of photographic work by Architect David Adjaye chronicling the urban form in Africa, a subject pretty much disregarded by the current urbanist avant garde, but surely one worth reflecting on. I don't anticipate any great polemic from this work, that's not something Adjaye is renowned for, but a set of photos building a picture of a new/old, strangely familiar set of contexts should provide food for thought at the very least, and a valuable counterpoint to the muscular, ethically dubious expansionism of the East from which European architects seem happy to take their slice.