Archive

transnational

Infrastructure between Statehood and Selfhood: The Trans-African Highway

Kenny Cupers, Prita Meier

 

Focusing on the 1960s–70s project to build a trans-African highway network, Infrastructure between Statehood and Selfhood: The Trans-African Highway argues for the need to develop a more dialectical understanding of the relationship between people and infrastructure than current architectural and urban scholarship affords. As Kenny Cupers and Prita Meier describe, African leaders imagined infrastructure as a vehicle of Pan-African freedom, unity, and development, but the construction of the Trans-African Highway relied on expertise and funding from former colonial overlords. Based on archival research, visual analysis, and ethnographic fieldwork in Kenya, this article examines the highway’s imaginaries of decolonization to show how infrastructure was both the business of statehood and a means of selfhood.

Map of the Trans-African Highway project, late 1970s (Rolf Hofmeier, “Die Transafrikastraßen: Stand der Planung und Realisierung,” Africa Spectrum 14, no. 1 [1979], 35).

Map of the Trans-African Highway project, late 1970s (Rolf Hofmeier, “Die Transafrikastraßen: Stand der Planung und Realisierung,” Africa Spectrum 14, no. 1 [1979], 35).

From the automobile and the tarmac road to the aesthetics and practices of mobility these fostered, infrastructure was a vehicle for the production of subjectivity in postindependence Kenya. This new selfhood, future oriented and on the move, was both victim and agent of commodification.

Book Review by Robin Hartanto Honggare: “Southeast Asia’s modern architecture: questions of translation, epistemology and power” by Jiat-Hwee Chang and Imran bin Tajudeen, Planning Perspectives.

One to add to the summer reading list….

Full book review is here: Southeast Asia’s modern architecture: questions of translation, epistemology and power

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.

image3

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.

image5-1

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.

IMG_8074 bis

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.

Post 14

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:

https://catalogue.leidenuniv.nl/primo-explore/fulldisplay?docid=UBL_ALMA51336909840002711&context=L&vid=UBL_V1&lang=en_US&search_scope=All_Content&adaptor=Local%20Search%20Engine&isFrbr=true&tab=all_content&query=any,contains,Ng%27ambo%20atlas&offset=0

Available for purchase at:

https://lmpublishers.nl/en/catalogus/ngambo-atlas-historic-urban-landscape-of-zanzibar-towns-other-side/

Thank you to Prof. Ola Uduku of Manchester School of Architecture for reviewing the ‘Sharing Stories from Jamestown’ exhibition. The exhibition has been extended to run until the end of June 2019. Below I’ve uploaded a 360 degree panoramic view – you can ‘click and drag’ the film to have a look around….

WARUH: West African Rapid Urbanisation and Heritage Conservation Research Network

Iain Jackson’s exhibition co-curated by Allotey Konuah-Bruce and Joe Addo opened to great acclaim on Saturday evening at the Jamestown Café, venue, near Ussher Fort. Curiously the café it was confirmed by local elders who attended the opening is accurately in Usshertown; the exhibition launch providing a great forum for these questions to be aired and for detailed discussions to be had.

Historic photographs and maps of ‘old’
Jamestown buildings have been placed next to those which show their age,
condition and use, in ‘contemporary’ Jamestown have been displayed in the lower
gallery of the Jamestown Café, which itself features in the exhibition as Tarquah
house, the dwelling and warehouse of one of Jamestown’s wealthy local
merchants, who had originally had it built. The exhibition represents a true
joint collaboration between Iain Jackson and Allotey Konuah-Bruce who have
formed a close and productive working relationship as they have spent the…

View original post 244 more words

This is an excellent opportunity for emerging writers and students. Last year’s gathering produced some excellent work, and this year we will have the exhibition at James Town Cafe as a provocation and stimulus for debate….

WARUH: West African Rapid Urbanisation and Heritage Conservation Research Network

We are pleased to announce that we are now accepting applications for the 2019 British Academy – ASAUK funded 2019 African Architecture Writing Workshops. These workshops are offered for postgraduate students looking to develop their academic writing skills in the areas of architecture, urbanism and related disciplines.

This year there are two workshops. The first to be offered will take place in May 2019

FIRST WORKSHOP DETAILS

“Sharing
Stories from Jamestown and the Creation of Mercantile Accra” Writing Workshop

Monday, May 12 – Sunday, May 18, 2019

This workshop explores the colonial
and mercantile architecture of Jamestown, the British settlement area of
colonial Accra and located in Ga Mashie. This writing workshop is linked to the
May 17 exhibition organized by Professor Iain Jackson (University of Liverpool) and Joe Osae-Addo and Allotey Bruce-Konuah (Jamestown Cafe), which will showcase archival and historical images and
maps of Accra’s…

View original post 420 more words

Maxwell Fry, the architect and planner of Ibadan University, considered the campus to be the highlight of his career, although he confessed that he found the Kenneth Dike library elevation too ‘lace-like’.

It is an extraordinary structure and we’ve covered it on the TAG blog previously, as well as printing a 3D sectional model of the structure. Taking a more retro step, I’ve now produced a hand-drawn (rotring, ink wash) front elevational drawing of the building (minus the small reading room on the RHS and smaller structure on the LHS, for clarity).

Kenneth Dike Library at Ibadan University, Nigeria

The drawing stretches over 2 x A1 sheets and has been scanned, pieced together, and the blue ‘sky’ added in Photoshop. I’m going to follow drawing with some additional studies into various libraries in Ghana – especially the Children’s Library in Accra (Nickson and Borys); Sekondi Regional Library (James Cubitt); Koforidua Library (also by Cubitt); KNUST Library (?) and the iconic Bolgatanga library by Max Bond.

Sharing Stories from James Town and the Creation of Mercantile Accra
Forthcoming Exhibition at James Town Cafe, 17th May 2019

I’ve been working in Jamestown, Accra to start planning an exhibition on the colonial and mercantile architecture of the district. Using archival and historical images and maps the exhibition will celebrate and explore Accra’s rich architectural heritage and urban history. The exhibition will focus on the warehouses, stores, factories and offices of James Town and examine how the city rapidly developed into a vast commercial enterprise.

The images for the exhibition have been generously provided by Unilever, Barclays, UK National Archives, The British Museum and private collections. Most of these images have not been exhibited before and we’re delighted that they will be shown in Accra, and in very close proximity to where they were originally taken.

IMG_4426 (1).jpg

Exhibition Promotional Banner outside James Town Cafe with Iain Jackson [L], Joe Osae-Addo [C] and Allotey Bruce-Konuah [R]

There will be a printed/PDF catalogue to accompany the exhibition showing both archival and modern photographs of the buildings, along with historical maps, and we will hang large photographic banners of the archival images directly onto the historic buildings in James Town.

The main exhibition (co-designed with architect Joe Osae-Addo and designer Allotey Bruce-Konuah) will be hosted by ArchiAfrika at the James Town Café, from 17th May 2019. We’re also hoping that it will go on tour to University of Ghana (details to be announced). In June there will be an additional exhibition hosted at the James Town Café  curated by Lukasz Stanek and Ola Uduku of Manchester School of Architecture – and we’ll include more on both exhibitions here.

We’ve also started a new project to produce 360 degree panoramic photographs (and films) of some of the key sites and streets in James Town (and its environs). The images have been captured with a Ricoh Theta camera and we’ve taken over 200 photographs/ short films to date. The clips will be pieced together as a series of films and overdubbed with a commentary on the history and significance of the buildings in view. The films may be viewed with a VR headset for a more immersive experience. Allotey Bruce-Konuah already gives tours of James Town, and these films will enable his expertise to reach a wider audience, as well as encouraging new visitors to make the trip to this unique and highly important portion of Accra.

 

 

A World of Architectural History is the 4th annual conference of the Architectural Research in Europe Network Association (ARENA).

mf_conference_image_1_web

The conference aims to critique and celebrate the latest global advances within architectural history over the last few decades, by focusing upon the word ‘global’ in two senses: 

  • Geographically – referring to the increasing inclusion of all parts of the world in more complex and multiple discourses of architectural history
  • Intellectually – the ongoing expansion of architectural history into other academic subjects, plus the reception of ideas/themes from those subjects

Recognition will be given to a more inclusive approach to architectural history that seeks to incorporate the histories of all countries/regions, and to the significant contributions now being made through interdisciplinary links with other subjects. As such, the conference will represent the forefront of the field internationally and discuss where architectural history ought to head in the future.

Conference presenters will include those from a wide range of subject areas within The Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment and leading figures in architectural history across the world. Both invited speakers and those selected via an open call will contribute their papers.

Conference themes

Eight thematic areas will be presented over the two days of the conference, with these themes also framing the call for papers:

  • Culture and Architectural History
  • Architectural History and Design Research
  • The Expanded Field
  • Colonialism, Post-Colonialism and Beyond
  • History, Environment and Technology
  • Architectural History as Pedagogy
  • Global Domesticity
  • Informalities, Identities and Subjectivities

https://www.ucl.ac.uk/bartlett/architecture/events/2018/nov/world-architectural-history-conference

 

 

 

Escaping Nazi persecution, Otto Koenigsberger moved to India, where he set up the Hindustan Housing Factory, before it all went wrong.

This article first appeared on Scroll.in

The German architect who led independent India’s first attempt at prefabricated housing

Jawaharlal Nehru, Otto Koenigsberger, Amrit Kaur and unknown others visit the Housing Factory, 1950. | Courtesy: Koenigsberger family

The refugee crisis that followed the division of India and Pakistan in August 1947 intensified the already dire housing situation in Indian cities. In Delhi, where the population had almost doubled over the previous decade, causing a severe housing shortage, some 500,000 refugees sought shelter. As well as camps outside the city, Delhi’s verandahs, gardens and pavements were filled with displaced people while communal violence raged in the streets.

The “noble mansion of free India where all her children may dwell” that Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru envisioned building in his Independence Day speech must have seemed a pipedream to Delhi’s homeless. Nonetheless, the central government committed to developing housing solutions that would provide dignified, sustainable, low-cost shelter to help counter the refugee crisis.

Responsible for leading this project was Otto Koenigsberger, Director of Housing in the Ministry of Health. Koenigsberger, who was born in 1908 in Berlin, Germany, had been working in exile in India since 1939. Unable to continue his work as an architect in Berlin due to Nazi persecution, Koenigsberger – who was of Jewish background – had migrated to Bangalore, where he held the position of Government Architect and Town Planner in the erstwhile princely state of Mysore for nine years.

Otto Koenigsberger at his desk in Delhi, 1950.
Otto Koenigsberger at his desk in Delhi, 1950.

In addition to his extensive government work in Mysore, he built up a private practice, working on large-scale urban planning projects such as the Jamshedpur Development Plan for Tata & Sons, or the master plan for Bhubaneswar, the new capital of Orissa. Koenigsberger was also a founding editor of MARG magazine. Before being called to Delhi to work with the central government, Koenigsberger had become a prominent figure in India’s evolving architectural landscape and had established a reputation as a town planner.

Throughout his time in India, he had also displayed enthusiasm and ambition for developing low-cost, prefabricated housing. Arguing that mass production was particularly suited to India because of the “simpler” housing needs of the Indian worker’s family, Koenigsberger designed the Tata House for Jamshedpur.

Built on a light steel framework, with walls of precast aerated concrete blocks and a barrel-vault roof of the same material, the component parts could be transported by lorry and assembled on site. In Mysore, too, Koenigsberger was involved in the development of a mass-manufacture housing scheme initiated by Bangalore industrialists and a British engineering firm to meet the severe housing lack in urban areas. Like many other prefab schemes that were initiated in the 1940s, however, these projects remained on the drawing board.

Good idea on paper

It is not surprising that when Koenigsberger was invited to advise the government of India on the chronic housing shortage, he recommended prefabricated housing as a viable solution. From October 1948, as Director of Housing, he began setting up the Hindustan Housing Factory in Delhi, which was to serve the capital city, supplementing rather than replacing the traditional construction of houses and targeting refugee housing needs.

It was a pilot project, initiated with the aim of replication across India’s urban centres. The simple single-storey housing units produced by the factory offered two rooms, rear and front verandahs, a kitchen and a separate bathroom and lavatory accessed via a small rear courtyard. While they could be added to incrementally or combined to make larger units, the real innovation of the houses was the use of large load-bearing aerated-concrete wall panels that were quickly cured by the relatively new process of autoclaving.

Delhi prefab, 1950.
Delhi prefab, 1950.

The aerated-concrete panels offered excellent thermal properties and could be produced using local materials. Doors and windows were to be fitted to the panels in the factory so that site work could be reduced to building simple masonry foundations and assembling the ready-made panels.

Government Housing Factory with aerated concrete panels in the foreground, 1950.
Government Housing Factory with aerated concrete panels in the foreground, 1950.

Series of crises

What could possibly go wrong? Well, pretty much everything, as it turned out.

ADVERTISEMENT

To begin with, the delivery of prototypes of the houses, which were needed for testing in local conditions and finalising design details, was delayed. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health took over six months to establish the factory’s management and administration structure, define its constitution, select its committee and hire skilled staff, which postponed the commencement of actual building work.

Apart from that, a dock fire in Liverpool, the sinking of a ship loaded with vital supplies in the Red Sea, the overcrowding of Bombay’s harbour in the summer of 1949 and shortages of special wagons for the transport of heavy machinery from Bombay and Calcutta to Delhi, all hampered progress. It was not until the summer of 1950 that the factory started producing houses, after a backlash in the press and Parliament had already begun.

Departure amidst scandals

To make matters worse, a worrying number of the aerated-concrete panels started breaking during autoclaving, while others developed cracks after erection. The houses were falling apart. Unable to solve the problem, production stopped in December 1950. The scandal that ensued ended Koenigsberger’s career in India. Politicians who had been against the scheme launched an aggressive attack in Parliament, which was intensified in the media and supported by groups that had hoped the project would fail, including the PWD and elements of the construction industry.

Headlines such as “The Full Dope on GOI’s Pre-Fab Racket,” and “Prefab Housing Project A Criminal Waste” coursed through the press. Health Minister Rajkumari Amrit Kaur dismissed Koenigsberger as manager of the housing factory in April 1951 and he subsequently retired from his government duties, returning to Europe bitterly disappointed.

Press clippings on the scandal, 1951.
Press clippings on the scandal, 1951.

Koenigsberger, a naturalised Indian citizen, settled in London, where most of his family was living. He continued his work on low-cost housing and urban development in rapidly growing cities but as director of the Department of Tropical Studies at the Architectural Association, Professor of Development Planning at University College London and in his advisory roles for the United Nations, World Bank and various nation states. His book Manual of Tropical Housing and Building, co-authored with TG Ingersoll, Alan Mayhew and SV Szokolay and published in 1974, became ubiquitous in architecture school libraries in South Asia and other “tropical” geographies. He died in London at the age of 90.

Ironically, production of the panels resumed shortly before Koenigsberger’s departure from India. The autoclaving had brought out peculiarities in the local cement that were “nursed” by adding more lime. The Hindustan Housing Factory still exists, albeit under another name: Hindustan Prefab. According to their website, their premises include a Technology Park, where parts of the failed refugee housing are displayed.

Call for Papers: COLONIAL AND POSTCOLONIAL LANDSCAPES: Architecture, Cities, Infrastructures

16th – 18th January 2019  |   Lisbon | Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation
DSC_0412

The infrastructure of the colonial territories obeyed the logic of economic exploitation, territorial domain and commercial dynamics among others that left deep marks in the constructed landscape. The rationales applied to the decisions behind the construction of infrastructures varied according to the historical period, the political model of colonial administration and the international conjuncture.

This congress seeks to bring to the knowledge of the scientific community the dynamics of occupation of colonial territory, especially those involving agents related to architecture and urbanism and its repercussions in the same territories as independent countries.

It is hoped to address issues such as how colonial infrastructure has conditioned the current development models of the new countries or what options taken by colonial administrations have been abandoned or otherwise strengthened after independence.

The congress is part of the ongoing research project entitled “Coast to Coast – Late Portuguese Infrastructural Development in Continental Africa (Angola and Mozambique): Critical and Historical Analysis and Postcolonial Assessment” funded by ‘Fundação para a Ciência e Tecnologia’ (FCT – Foundation for Science and Technology), which has as partner the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation (FCG).

The aim of this congress is to extend the debate on the repercussions of the decisions taken by the colonial states in the area of ​​territorial infrastructures – in particular through the disciplines of architecture and urbanism – in post-independence development models and the formation of new countries with colonial past

 

1. Projecting Power in Colonial and Post-Colonial Angola and Mozambique: Architecture, Urban Design, Public Art and Monuments (Jeremy Ball, Gerbert Verheij)

2. China in African, Latin American and Caribbean territories: Examining spatial transformations around diplomacy and economic aid (Valeria Guzmán Verri, Natalia Solano Meza)

3. Spaces in the Americas: current efforts towards a non-Eurocentric theory (Fernando Luiz Lara, Marcio Cotrim Cunha)

4. Planned Violence: Post/Colonial Urban Infrastructures, Literature and Culture (Dominic Davies, Elleke Boehmer)

5. Infrastructural development in the European Portuguese territory in the late colonial period (Paulo Tormenta Pinto, João Paulo Delgado)

6. Peripheral infrastructures in late colonial cities (Tiago Castela)

7. Single and collective housing as a modern laboratory in colonial territories: from public order to private initiative (Ana Magalhães)

8. Beyond Colonialism: Afro-Modernist Agents and Tectonics as Expression of Cultural Independence  (Milia Lorraine Khoury, Diogo Pereira Henriques)

9. (De)constructing the Right to the City: Infrastructural policies and practices in Portuguese-speaking African countries (Sílvia Viegas, Sílvia Jorge)

10. The interrupted utopia. Landscapes of modern collective housing in Former European Colonies  (Roberto Goycoolea, Inês Lima Rodrigues)

11. Globalized Regionalism: the inheritance of colonial infrastructure (Eliana Sousa Santos, Susanne Bauer)

12. Materiality & Mobility in the construction of Colonial Landscapes (Alice Santiago Faria)

13. The transnational live project: critical reflections on the ethics, politics and pedagogies of collaborations between the global north and global south (Jhono Bennett, James Benedict Brown, Peter Russell)

14. Colonial Spatiality in African Sahara Regions (Samia Henni)

15. Urban Legacies: linking enclaving and social identities (Anna Mazzolini, Morten Nielsen)

16. The spatialization of population control in late colonialism: contexts, modalities, dynamics (Miguel Bandeira Jerónimo)