Clouded Title: On Land  Imaginaries and Dwellings

Tatiana Muringani
︎ tatiana.muringani
︎ Harare, Zimbabwe
This project addresses the complex dimensions of informal urban practices in postcolonial Harare. The work initially takes a holistic approach to this complexity by interrogating the settler colonial urban history of the city, as well as confronting some of the on-going struggles of decolonization, which will also reveal socio-political moments of violence on land and displacement of informal settlements located on the fringes of the city. Through a close analysis of the idea of informality, a dweller’s daily routines, forms of spatial production and other forensic evidence, the proposal argues that there’s a role that these social actors play in shaping and disrupting the urban future of the city. During this process of exploration, a fundamental question was raised: How can the growth of the city and future neighbourhoods be planned around the generative urban influence of informal economies in Harare, while thinking through informality and appropriations as alternatives to colonial imposition? 

'Clouded Title' is a proposal that is centred around an alternative land titling program that suggests ways of rethinking terms of land occupancy and how to construct ownership through promoting equitable access to water. Most improved water sources in Harare, Zimbabwe are borehole hand pumps and the design proposal focuses on a new settlement typology, centred on water rituals and spatial sequencing of the borehole hand pump. Climate emergency increases the need for effective public groundwater governance to protect against the over-exploitation of the diminishing water table. The design proposal also explores regenerative landscaping strategies to provide water capturing systems which help to recharge and maintain the resilience of the water table. The renewed interest in land ownership and shared water rights enhance communal solidarity and aims to protect the desperate and the displaced through the state rather than being further exploited by external parties.

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