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«CSAAR (7: 2010: Amman) Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development \ Edited by Steffen Lehmann, Husam Al Waer, Jamal AI-Qawasmi. Amman: The Center ...»

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The erosion of the relevance of Islamic principles of urban space regulation can be attributed to the centralisation of the land tenure system in Nigeria through the 1979 Land Use Act (LUA) which invalidates all the indigenous land laws of Nigeria (Barau 2009). The LUA is responsible for the current multiple socio-ecological crises over space use in Kano which compounds the city's known features of sustainability. For instance, Maiwada (2000) finds that the open spaces drastically reduced along with their ecological significance. Now in Kano people seek land to build houses from substandard, chaotic and even illegal informal land market (Liman and Adamu 2003). Earlier on Ajayi (1997) observes that spatially Kano grows by 100% per decade. Similarly, Sani (2004) adds that Kano grows aimlessly without master-plan, without focus, or direction and little control spreading over 11 local govemment areas. But, UN Habitat (2009) criticises master plans and urges for use of strategie plans that tackle the informal urban sector. It is pertinent to add that densification, gentrification and plots fragmentation are common in Kano leading to increased shrinkage of the individual buildings even in the official low density areas (Barau 2008).

Similarly, Oumar (2008) finds that over the years the room occupancy rate for Kano has ranged from 1.4 in 1963 to 1.9 in 1980 and 2.67 in 1994. These figures correspond with increasing figures of city from about 100,000 in early 1950s, 1.6 million in 1990s to current 3.0 million. This rapid growth undermines the Aliyu Salisu Barau 3 Data and Methods

3.1 Study Sites and Sampling

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Figure 1: Google image of (heart like shaped) Kano walled city

3.2 Interpretation and Analysis of Images For analysis and interpretation of the two images used in this research, visual cues such as tone, texture, shapes, and patterns of Kenting Aftica (air photo mosaic 1980) and Google Earth (satellite image 2008) were considered.

3.3 Field Investigations and Interviews Kenting Africa air photo mosaic was used as control and study aid for the field observation of roads sizes; encroachments on open spaces; undeveloped areas, and cultural structures like the city walls. BuHt-up structural relations surveys between individual and cluster of buildings within sampled points was also imperative in order to fetch idea concerning management of spaces and on the general observation of the Islamic instruments of space use. Participants for the interview were selected randomly from the study sites.

4 Results and Discussions

It is evident from the fieldwork undertaken at Chedi ward and its environs located within the ancient walled city, that the concept of fina is still very much observed and relevant in the spatial organisation of the area. The area has walkable passages that are non-motorable but usable by animals Iike horses, donkeys and camels. Chedi is among the ancient wards mentioned in Liman and Adamu (2003). Originally the houses there were built of mud, but subsequent reconstructions were done with modern building materials. It is observed that rarely the fina/pathways (with average width of 7 meters) are violated by 364 Salisu Barau trespassers. Even within some cul-de-sacs (blind alleys) the situation remains the same. House occupants use the fina space for purposes that benefit the community e.g. installation of electric poles and transformers. The sustenance of this situation is linked to the active role of ward-head (Mai Unguwa in Hausa language) who serves as the local head and exercises the role of muhtasib.

Stability experienced in such areas for long period is an element of sustainability that emanates through Islamic rules as noticed by AI-Hathloul (2005); Hakim (1996).

Analysis of the 1980 Kenting air photo shows that areas around Wambai city gate have wetlands and ponds which play crucial role in urban cooling and flood control. The wetlands observed are all missing in the Google Earth 2008. It is obvious that, if the concept of harim is utilised it would have demarcated no­ trespassing zones which would have preserved these sites which are now weil desiccated. The negative implications of this for Kano city has been noted by Maiwada (2000) and Barau (2007). The erstwhile ponds and wetlands are now replaced by buildings and other commercially related structures.

Kenting air photo mosaic of 1980 shows that about one half of the Kano walled city especially its western axis are Iightly developed or undeveloped. The land use is primarily farmed park land, gardens, scrublands and houses of the poor as weil as few educational institutions. The area is part of what Frishman (1977) refers to undeveloped parts of the city and which in the context of this research could be considered as hima. However, during the mid-1980s the area was converted into medium density housing area known as Sabon Titi/Kabuga layout (Tal'udu). The reserve land was issued to the wealthy and influential individuals who relocated to the area from the inner core city and other areas. In this context, hima lands are lost through the process of gentrification which leads to land use and land cover changes. Some seetions of these layouts do not have substantive traditional heads like Mai Unguwa who oversees the administration of affairs of the saciety as Muhtasib and last strata representative of the Emir of Kana. Consequently, unlike in the inner care city potential threats are visible between owners of adjacent houses especially with regard to the types of buildings. For instance, it is observed at Kabuga layout that some duplex houses overlook some of the adjacent bungalows and undeveloped lands (see figure 2 belaw). This contradicts Islamic traditional city setting which respects privacy of individuals (AI-Hathloul 2005). In general, lack of cansideration to Islamic rules on the built environment is caused principally by lack of set of rules to be enforced through an overseer or muhtsib. This opinion is confirmed by some residents interviewed. In this planned layout some house owners extend their walls beyond the fina thereby encroaching on the road and this situation some residents attribute to corruption by some development control officers of the planning authorities and also lack of substantive muhtasib personnel (see figure 3), such situation mayaiso create tension in the community.

Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 365

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Figure 3: road encroachment by buildings violate fina concept as evident here Another critical example on erosion of relevance of the concept of harim is manifested on the pervasive direct encroachment of buildings on the Kano walls and gates. The study examines this problem at Dukawuya gate which is one of the youngest gates and walls built in the 17 th century. The Kano walls were never demolished or pillaged in the history, they had water filled moats and very wide buffers (harim) that protected them from encroachment. The buifer to prevent harm to all structures as noted by Zubair and Hakim (2006) is now very much Aliyu Salisu Barau disregarded and hence the current negative condition of the walls. The walls also used to have active caretakers (muhtsibs?) until the time the Nigerian federal government took them over as national heritage sites in the late 1960s. However, the secular laws of Nigeria could not secure the walls simply because the laws are not divine. People rarely feel obliged to respect them. Today the walls lack real caretakers and hence the continuous erosion and demolition of the walls (see figure 4 below).

Figure 4: encroachments on the city wall and gate is common in Kano

From the comparative analysis of the two images used for this research, the relevance of the concepts of harim and hima in the management of spatial organisation and in maintaining ecological balance is clearly stated especially as regards open spaces and city ponds of Kano during the last three decades. No less than 70 open spaces and city ponds were counted on the air photo mosaic and this sharply contrasts the 2008 Google Earth image which shows extreme reduction in the number of open spaces and city ponds. Ground truthing conducted helped in identifying the real situation on the ground. Now, most of the city ponds have been desiccated, filled in or replaced by built up structures as the case is with ponds around Kabara, Sharifai, Zango, Yakasai, and Gwale wards are examples. For open spaces many are also lost through massive encroachments by public and private structures. Example of affected open spaces includes those at Kwalli, Gwale, Shahuci, and Yakasai wards. Both open spaces and ponds exercise some ecological tasks like flood control, cooling and waste management (Maiwada 2000). The rapid and continues diminishing of open spaces and ponds leads to massive intensification of the built up areas within the city. From analysis of the Google Earth imagery Kano looks too congested. [t is earlier noted that densification is a process needed for urban sustainability (Lehmann 2010), but in the case of Kano urban compactness and densification Sustainable Architecture and Urban Development 367 pose and deepen ecological challenges ranging from microcIimate change, pollution and disease prevalence.

5 Conclusions This paper attempts to identifY the role of Islamic instruments of spatial organisation and management of urban spaces. This becomes necessary as the world searches for alternatives and solutions to engender sustainability in the face of widening challenges of seamless urbanisation across the globe. The

major conclusions drawn from this study are as folIows:

That Sharia and institutions of space control and management playa key role in urban design and forms in Muslim cities and towns. The strength of Sharia institutions for settlement regulation and the models that it prornotes such as fina, hima, and harim lies in their sacred essen ce, simplicity and comprehendible nature. Every member of the Muslim community regardless of sex, level of education and other social variables could participate in their implementation even under minimum guidance.

Adoption of scientific and technical tools of urban spatial planning is becoming a bandwagon affair with so many Muslim countries. Such tools are excIusive encIaves of professionals but vast majority of the population who are the end users or receivers of any policy derived from such instruments are quite disconnected from such mathematical and computer based modelling systems.

Based on study of the situation of Kano city in northern Nigeria, it appears that the city developed its spatial organisation based on the Islamic rules of the buHt environment that operated in the past. The rules become eroded by the overriding and superior Land Use Act of 1978 and other land and natural resource policies of Nigeria wh ich displace the traditional Islamic rules of the built environment. Now with erosion of Islamic spatial values in the built environment, the city and its population suffer from evident socio-ecological decay. Master plans have failed. Urban renewals are costly and unsustainable.

Open spaces, scrublands and city ponds evolve merely due to Islamic principles. These ecological ingredients are most desirable in dry land urban area like Kano in order to manage growth and development process.

As challenges of urbanisation persist, it is worthwhile for all Muslim professionals, governments and other related and relevant institutions to redirect their ideas, skills, policies and decisions towards Islamic mode of urbanism which underscores responsibilities for space management from individual through community, urban and government levels.

Based on the opportunities embedded in Islamic models of spatial organisation there is need for more advanced studies on how the Islamic instruments could be used as tools of promoting sustainable urbanisation in the developing countries.

Salisu Barau


Abdulac, S. (1984). Large-scale development in the history of Muslim urbanism.

In Sevcenko, M.B. (ed), Continuity and change: Design strategies for large-scale urban development. Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Abu-Lughod, J. L. (1978). Preserving the living heritage of Islamic eities. In Holod, R. (ed.) Toward an Architeeture in the Spirit oflslam.


Adhya, A.; Plowright, P. Stevens, J. (2010). Defining sustainable urbanism:

towards a responsive urban design. In Book of Proceedings of Conference on Technology and Sustainability in the Built Environment.

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