High-rise Flats: A Case of a Failed Densification Agenda in Zimbabwe?


  • Percy Toriro
  • Tafadzwa Mutambisi


rapid urbanisation, sustainable development, walk-up flats, housing backlog


Land is a finite resource that requires careful management. When
land is not carefully managed, it can be wasted, and this can result in
urban sprawl. Many urban settlements in Zimbabwe typically are
sprawling outwards, eating into the land that is supposed to be for
agriculture and other non-urban uses. Zimbabwe‟s capital city,
Harare, has more than doubled the area it covers over the past few
decades. It is estimated that Harare grew its urban footprint from
approximately 300km2 at independence in 1980 to about 1000m2
only 30 years later by the year 2010. This exponential outward urban
spatial growth has taken place despite deliberate planning policies
and measures to curb urban sprawl. Two important policies are
contained in the Harare Master Plan that demonstrate the planning
intention to contain urban sprawl. These are densification and
vertical development. If strictly implemented, these policies would
have seen massive development of high-rise housing developments in
the city. Using mixed research methods, the article reveals that there
have not been any significant high-rise flat developments in Harare
since the master plan was formulated. While the agenda remains in
planning policy, practically this has not been a successful agenda.