Gabon Magazine

Harvard redesigns a future Libreville
As Gabon welcomes increased tourism and industrialisation, thought needs to be given to the changing urban landscape.

Sponsored by the Sylvia Bongo Foundation for Families, 12 students from the prestigious American university, accom-panied by architects Benjamin Aranda (the course tutor) and Nathan Browning of Island Planning Corporation, spent five days in Gabon in March working with the National Parks Agency (ANPN) and the National Agency of Public Works (ANGT) on finding planning solutions for the city.

“The Harvard Graduate School of Design is interested in Libreville as a research topic because it engages the problem of urban expansion within a context of surround-ing national parks,” said Aranda. “The visit to Libreville was the best academic trip we’ve experienced. None of the students had been to Africa before and all their previous research was limited to library and online sources.” Students found Gabon very open to sustainable solutions, said Aranda, and sensed “real possibility in the air”.
The students worked on six projects dealing with everything from waste management to redesigning the airport and giving tourists better access to the country’s national parks.
In a joint statement, students Alissa Priebe and Sara Newey said: “We are very excited to be able to work on these issues and potentially have an impact on the future development of Gabon in order to both support its growth while helping to conserve and protect its greatest assets.”
Kate White, sustainable development expert at the Sylvia Bongo Foundation, said: “Harvard students had the unique experience of being able to look at a redesign on this scale in Africa, and Gabon benefited by having some of the best brains thinking about it.”
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