Ng’ambo Atlas. Historic Urban Landscape of Zanzibar Town’s ‘Other Side’

Ng’ambo is the lesser known ‘Other Side’ of Zanzibar Town. During the British Protectorate the area was designated as the ‘Native Quarters’, today it is set to become the new city centre of Zanzibar’s capital. Local and international perceptions of the cultural and historical importance of Ng’ambo have for a long time remained overshadowed by the social and cultural divisions created during colonial times. One thing is certain: despite its limited international fame and lack of recognition of its importance, Ng’ambo has played and continues to play a vital role in shaping the urban environment of Zanzibar Town.


Ng’ambo Atlas. Historic Urban Landscape of Zanzibar Town’s ‘Other Side’ documents the material collected through the heritage-based urban planning project Ng’ambo Tuitakayo! carried out by the Government of Zanzibar in collaboration with African Architecture Matters and City of Amsterdam and under the auspices of UNESCO.


The goal of the project was to prepare a local area plan (structure plan) for the new city centre of Zanzibar’s capital. The planning exercises were from the beginning grounded in the notions of urban culture and heritage, while the principles outlined in the UNESCO Recommendation on Historic Urban Landscape provided a framework for the subsequent stages of the work.

It quickly became clear that the cultural and historic richness of Stone Town’s ‘Other Side’ merited a wider recognition than a technical planning document would allow for. At the same time presenting the outcomes of the project to a wider public through an atlas was a way to promote the history and culture of the area and contribute to the argument that urban heritage should play a central role in sustainable development of cities.

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The atlas brings together and presents Ng’ambo’s rich planning history and draws attention to the outcomes of the mapping of the material and immaterial cultural landscape.It presents over hundred years of Ng’ambo’s history and urban development through maps, plans, surveys and images, and provides insights into its present-day cultural landscape through subjects such as architecture, toponymy, cultural activities, public recreation, places for social interaction, handcrafts and urban heritage.

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Ng’ambo Atlas was produced by the Department of Urban and Rural Planning, Zanzibar and African Architecture Matters

Editors: Antoni Folkers and Iga Perzyna

Publication year: 2019

Available for free download from:,contains,Ng%27ambo%20atlas&offset=0

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