An Inclusive Expression Of Genius Loci: A Case Study Of The Urban Evolution Of Asmara, Eritrea

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Belula Tecle-Misghina

Abstract

Although Asmara developed during the era of modernist urban planning and Italian colonial influence, its genius loci is firmly rooted in place and time. This paper aims to explain the history, impact of administration, planning, and the dynamic synergies between tangible and intangible attributes of place, that led to Asmara being listed as a United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Site. This qualitative study analyses the layered expression of genius loci through a timeline mapping the development of Asmara. The methods include map analysis, drawings, and photographs, based on the author’s research of the city since 2005. A decolonial conceptual framework underpinned the study. The author’s lived experience, having grown up in Asmara, provides a deeper layer of autoethnographic understanding of the city, including the cultural-spatial characteristics that safeguard its genius loci. The article concludes with findings and a proposition for an inclusive transformation of postcolonial cities.

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