The anatomy of change in urban infrastructure landscapes: cooking landscapes in Maputo, Mozambique

Vanesa Castán Broto*, Enora Robin, Timothy Whitehead

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid urbanisation and global environmental transformations require rethinking the material and social configurations of cities. The concept of ‘transitions’ has gained traction to guide such processes of infrastructure change towards net-zero, resilient societies both in academic and policy conversations. In this paper, we examine what notions of change are deployed in these debates. Specifically, we argue that transition theory conceptualises change as triggered by intentional actions and innovations by emphasising the functional drivers leading change. While deliberate actions cause changes, not all change follows strategic intent. Instead, transitions also depend on contingent relations between social actors and material objects, which cannot always be planned or anticipated. The concept of ‘urban infrastructure landscape’ helps reveal the non-strategic aspects of transitions. The example of improved cookstoves in Maputo, Mozambique, demonstrates the change envisaged in current energy policy and the changes on the ground.

Original languageEnglish
JournalLandscape Research
Early online date22 Mar 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 22 Mar 2022

Bibliographical note

© 2022 The Author(s). Published with license by Landscape Research Group Ltd.
This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives License (, which permits non-commercial re-use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited, and is not altered, transformed, or built upon in any way.


  • energy access
  • energy landscapes
  • improved cookstoves
  • Urban infrastructure landscapes


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