KNUST Partners Aalto University to Restore Kumasi as the Garden City

Aalto University in Finland and the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), have carved out a comprehensive proposal which was borne out of an Urban survey that was supported by the Office of the Asanteman Stool Lands to restore Kumasi as the Garden City of West Africa as it was initially known.

This forms part of a five-year Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the two universities and is dubbed ‘KUMASI TREES (The Project of the Heart)’. The project has been fashioned to intentionally coincide with the 25th Anniversary of the reign of Asantehene Otumfuo Osei Tutu II who is also the Chancellor of the KNUST.

During a courtesy call by the partners to the Manhyia Palace, Prof Saija Hollmen, the Professor of Practice in Humanitarian Architecture at the Department of Architecture at Aalto University said a survey conducted ahead of the proposal’s drafting found residents of the city yearn for their eluded view. With the New Airport going International, Kumasi will see more visitors and hence the City needs to retake its position of Green and Walkable City for its people.

“We know Queen Elizabeth herself named Kumasi as the Garden City of West Africa a long time ago: that it used to be a wonderful sight of luxurious gardens and wonderful trees provide shade for its people. Now that the image of the garden city has disappeared, people still seem to cherish it in their hearts. They have the garden in the hearts, their minds and memory and they are missing the trees.”

She acknowledged the King and the government’s derailed efforts at restoring the city’s past glory and noted that the enigma was a “long-term maintenance” strategy.

“What maybe has been missing so far is a long-term maintenance strategy so we are here today to propose a project to make sure that his effort is not wasted.”

With the proposal, Prof Hollmen said, Otumfuo’s vision for Green Kumasi will be realized and leave a long-term legacy to his name.

Prof Hollmen said the project aimed at celebrating the exceptional reign of the King, is destined to create tree ownership by connecting to the cultural identities of the people in Kumasi.

Their strategy, she indicates will create a sense of identity and responsibility toward the trees.

“Our proposal is a strategy to celebrate His Majesty’s 25-year reign. We suggest, if he will bless, that he choose 25 designated communities be that individuals, families or companies who have been his partners throughout his reign and then he will choose 25 areas for these designated communities.

“The 25 will collaborate with KNUST where resides technical expertise and in collaboration with other universities and the Department of Forestry and Horticulture, the technical departments of the city, the Palace and all stakeholders.”

She said the proposal if admitted, will be implemented next year while the initial planning phase will commence with the Faculties of the KNUST after the blessings of the King.

She highlighted that initial designs and implementation for the maintenance will be exhibited in April 2023.

Laudable Project
Otumfuo characterized the project as a laudable one adding that the once-green Kumasi was a shadow of itself and “embarrassing”.

He added, “I cherish this partnership.”

The King is willing to try the new alternative to restore the beauty of the regional capital as he assured that the right stakeholders and venues would be selected for the project.

He is of the view that people do not cherish the significance of trees and urged the team to insert sensitization into the project.

“The whole idea is to educate people that ‘if the last tree dies, the last man dies’, else we will plant them and people will cut them for other purposes. People don’t appreciate trees.”

Prof Holman was accompanied to the Palace by the Project Expert and Senior Lecturer, Architect Taru Niskanen from Aalto University.

They were led by a delegation from the KNUST made up of Prof. Esmeralda Manful, Vice Dean of the International Programmes Office, Dr. Ing. Alexander Boakye Marful, Department of Architecture (Project Lead and Prof. Francis Appiah from the Department of Horticulture (Project Expert).

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