Monthly Archives: March 2016

INVITATION – International Symposium on Urban Heritage: Simulizi Mijini/Urban Narratives

The Dar Centre for Architectural Heritage (DARCH) in collaboration with the Technical University Berlin and the Architects Association of Tanzania have the pleasure of inviting you to participate in the:

International Symposium “Simulizi Mijini/Urban Narratives“

1 April 2016, 9:00 – 17:00 hrs
@ The British Council, Samora Avenue
urban narratives
Urban Heritage: What is it? Whose is it? Who defines it?
How can it build inclusive cities?
We will look at international examples of inclusive heritage practices and discuss their relevance for the context of Dar es Salaam.
The detailed programme will follow soon, kindly share with your network and RSVP to
We will be delighted to welcome you to the event!
Sincere regards,
Aida Mulokozi

Fabrications Journal: Tropical Zone: people, practices and pedagogies (27:2)

Two decades of architectural debate on environmental issues have cast new light on climatic responses, with very different interpretations of the meanings and constructions of the ‘tropical’ zone. Colonial, modernist and regional responses have been scrutinised as genealogically linked. Scientific discourses, cultural prejudices and social approaches intertwined to produce a resilient dialectic that has been reproduced, augmented or interrogated in research. This issue of Fabrications invites contributors to address the theme of the tropical zone as an architectural construct created and disseminated by a range of actors including educators, practitioners and their clientele, and state and institutional networks. Who were they/what were these and how did they approach this subject? What was their contribution to architectural production? How was that contribution received? How is it viewed retroactively in the light of new scholarship?

This issue anticipates papers that interrogate the term, its application and its imprint in regional histories, during the colonial and modern periods and after decolonisation in environments identified by the descriptor ‘tropical’. However, it also seeks new definitions of the term and its usage, in the context of contemporary environmental debates. It looks for new analyses of discursive trends from metropolitan centres of imperialism, from former colonies and from regions that regard themselves as climatically distinct. This issue is also open to papers that discuss how an understanding of the tropical zone relates to green architecture and new techno-scientific building processes, both in terms of aesthetics and politics.

Guidelines for Authors

Papers should be submitted online at  by 10 October 2016, 6-9000 words, full details at

Good bye Kumasi, Accra, Ghana….

We revisited the Manhyia Palace archives and made notes on the relevant documents to be consulted before dashing off to board the local propeller plane back to Accra. Gazing at the dusty spread of Kumasi – we wondered whether the current airport terminal was adjacent to the original Norman and Dawburn small airport project designed in the 1950s? Suggestions of an earlier architectural history seemed to be revealed in the present day profiles of the domestic airport buildings viewed as we taxied down the empty runway for takeoff.


‘Tropical Modernism’ on the 10GHC note, The Bank of Ghana in Accra

Accra was in the grips of a major traffic jam, cooler and drier than Kumasi, it proved overbearingly hot to spend more than half an hour getting from the airport to Jamestown to see the exhibition of the Delft-Accra, urban transformation collaboration project we visited on our arrival in Ghana. We met a transformed space and were given a tour by curator and ArchiAfrika member Joe Addo. Joe also spoke of his further plans for the activation of various parts of the Jamestown neighbourhood. A further visit to the National Museum offices, and another slow trip on Accra’s congested highway to the international airport concluded the trip, with Ghana’s independence day holidays over the weekend we weren’t the only ones heading out of town.

Our project continues; the Ghanaian team (Prof. Rexford Assasie Oppong and Irene Appeaning Addo) will begin planning their research trip to the UK in the autumn, and we have considerable sources to continue consulting in the meantime.


Notes from Kumasi Part 3

At the KNUST campus the library and Great Hall complex work very well within their elevated landscape setting. The Gerlach and Gillies-Reyburn’s muscular grey abstract ‘kente’ cloth brutalist hall and library extension is arranged in a ‘quad’. The complex overlooks the campus, facing a formal axis that leads to the administrative and teaching blocks. The composition is completed on its south flank by an architectural gem, which we discovered is the original KNUST library block. Is this James Cubitt’s riposte to Fry and Drew’s Ibadan Library?



The Old Library Block

The ‘old’ KNUST library presents an essay in tropical architectural design. Still sitting on its cast, fluted piloti this four storey structure employs screen walling, operable louver windows, and shading devices to both demonstrate and celebrate the possibilities of creating a successful architectural resolution to the needs of passive design. Its forlorn main entrance, clad in travertine, and superseded by the Gerlach and Gillies-Reyburn entrance to the East, shows the quality of materials employed in specific areas of its design.



Administration Offices and Meeting Room

Inside, much of the Library building seems frozen in time. Reading carrels lie empty whilst the daylight filled reading spaces, with custom built, empty journal shelves have few readers, and ageing academic book collections. The e-resource room however has been kitted out with desktop computers and seems to be the most used student space in the building. A second “IT” floor was being planned, and the new desktop computers were just being commissioned, in spaces flooded with artificial light, closed to the exterior with floor to ceiling fabric curtains – only this space in the building needed fans for cooling. Meanwhile the offices at the top floor with their no longer used spiral staircase took one to another world of naturally cross ventilated office space, and custom designed insect screens – demonstrating that climate responsive design in the tropics still works. One hopes its on-going transformation doesn’t forget this idea.

Notes from Kumasi Part 2

The KNUST campus continued to delight as we explored its many building types, landscape and wildlife. The staff housing [over twenty different types], is generally low density bungalows generously positioned along the sweeping roads to the west of the campus. The Vice-Chancellor’s lodge is also set amongst the staff housing, its pierced screen providing shading to the verandah-cum-corridor behind.


Vice-Chancellor’s Lodge

At Unity Hall, the two high-rise accommodation blocks dominate the arrangement, but they also frame the quadrangle that contains badminton courts, refectory and other social spaces. The space is also commandeered for laundry drying and we observed architecture students surveying the landscaped elements with their drawing boards set up under the shade of the loggia. Just a short walk from Unity is the sports track and Paa Joe Stadium. The seating is set within the raked landscape and the grandstand has a graceful concertinaed concrete roof that reduces in depth as it cantilevers over the seating.


Unity Hall

We were fortunate enough to view the architectural drawings of these buildings – but sadly, the climate has rendered them in a poor state and plans for digitization must be urgently progressed to preserve this important archive of material.


Paa Joe Stadium

Off campus we visited the Manhyia Palace built in 1925. Upon returning from exile the Ashantehene Nana Prempeh 1 was offered the building by the British (the former palace having been destroyed in the ‘War of the Golden Stool’ in 1900). The palace is now a museum with some excellent artifacts and collections. The palace grounds also contain the Manhyia archives, managed by the West African Studies department of Legon University. The archives contain records dating back to 1926 including many documents on land development, sanitation, state buildings and town planning. We’re looking forward to seeing what this archive holds – an initial inspection revealed many plans and previously untapped material!


Manhyia Palace Museum