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Doctoral thesis, 2022

Urban places for recreation – beyond dogmatic practices : case of Manzese Informal settlement Dar es Salaam

Sanga, Edson ;


The planning and designing of cities to include urban open spaces for recreation is recognised as vital in human life. Since the middle of the 19th century, professional ideas and approaches have been used in the provision of urban open spaces. Despite this, cities in developing countries face the emergence of informal settlements due to rapid urbanisation. The informal settlements exist without being planned, but due to informal acquiring of land and building homes.As a result the settlements are compact with no urban open spaces set aside as parks or squares. Despite such condition, people recreate. Previous research on this topic is very limited. This thesis steps away from professional ideas and grounds itself in an in-depth exploration on the phenomenon of recreation and the production of spaces for recreation based on quotidian lived experiences-which is little explored in informal settlements-, in order to unpack contemporary planning and design perspectives. Located in the city of Dar es Salaam, Manzese informal settlement was used as a case study for this research, and embedded mixed methods were deployed. The findings uncover that despite their density, and despite these settlements being devoid of planned spaces for recreation, recreational activities are retrofitted in ordinary spaces categorised as public infrastructure, Outdoor spaces in residential premises and transformed indoor spaces. The findings also show that the spaces are appropriated through adaptation, negotiation, transformation and the engagement of meanings. The analysis of the findings has led to the insight that the production of spaces occurs in multidimensional perspective, and that recreational spaces should be thought of in terms of spatial temporality. Planning for recreational spaces should not be conceptualized in terms of categorical thinking between public and private, as the two can overlap. Also the concept of recreation varies according to context, as it is embedded with income generation in informal settlements. Understanding the production of spaces for recreation through quotidian spatial practices casts light on national and global policies with regards to people’s everyday ways of appropriating spaces, which is integral to the formulation of new policies.


urban recreational spaces; provision of urban recreational space; production of spaces; production of places; informal settlements

Published in

Acta Universitatis Agriculturae Sueciae

2022, number: 2022:57
ISBN: 978-91-7760-989-6, eISBN: 978-91-7760-990-2
Publisher: Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences

Authors' information

Sanga, Edson (Sanga, Edson)
Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences, Department of Urban and Rural Development

UKÄ Subject classification

Human Geography

URI (permanent link to this page)