Following an interest that she developed studying architecture from 2008-2013, Zainab Gaafar nurtured her desire to peel back the hidden layers of Khartoum one at a time, aiming to contextualize the built environment around her. In 2014 she started a project aiming to document interesting, forgotten, and even abandoned buildings around the city; in 2016 the project was given the name Urban Explorers Khartoum, an initiative that organized city walks, asked questions regarding visual identity and public accessibility, and also produced maps and tips to navigate the city.
After it was apparent early on that there was more to be learned about the city, the initiative grew in 2017 to become a multidisciplinary research studio based in Khartoum, Sudan. Studio Urban developed into an entity focusing primarily on urban subjects including physical urban space, its history, how people experience it, and the dynamics that influence this experience. The Studio also looks at how the urban space is affected by the state and its policies.
The studio aspires to be the center of urban studies in Sudan and a knowledge sharing hub, utilizing diverse knowledge sharing resources to broaden our understanding of how people navigate, interact with and utilize the city. We believe that observation, research and collaboration with the residents of our city is the first step into turning our urban space into an inclusive space, which we aim to achieve by providing a platform that is sensitive to both individual and collective experiences.
To try to reshape how people see and perceive the city, in addition to finding new ways to bring out the value of everyday life. To redefine knowledge sharing through developing open- access platforms, with full accessibility for all people regardless of their education level and ability to access technology.