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From the 1950s to the late 1980s, the politics and economies of foreign aid — instigated by both the ‘capitalist West’ as well as the ‘communist East’ — gave rise to a whole infrastructure destined to assist the progress of ‘developing countries’ on their ‘path to development’. The various North-South exchanges that took place in the name of ‘development’ have left a deep imprint on the geopolitical landscape of postcolonial Africa, Asia, and Latin America.

(1) Bertil Melin, the Swedish director of the Nordic Tanganyika Project in Kibaha, showing a model of low-cost housing to (2) President Julius Nyerere, c. 1963-64. To the far left, (3) Mr. Dennis, the carpenter who made the models, co-designed the housing project, and “test-lived“ in the first constructed house with his family. From Torvald Åkesson, ‘Education – In Marble Halls or Under Trees. Low-Cost Houses in East Africa, Especially Ethiopia and Tanzania’, compiled self-published report, c. 1965, Stockholm. Collection KTH Library.

Largely instituted through bilateral relations between individual states, these ‘aid’ initiatives involved not only financial and material resources but also various forms of knowledge and expertise; as such, the modalities of this global, foreign aid-funded infrastructure boosted the creation and reinforcement of all sorts of institutional actors to efficiently exchange knowledge — largely through training courses, educational programs and/or research projects. In the light of widespread rural migration and intensive, rapid urbanization processes, expertise on the built environment was a particularly salient form of knowledge to the aims of foreign aid. Hence, architecture, urbanism and planning were no strangers to an emerging foreign aid-funded knowledge economy — a context in which the production and circulation of knowledge were intimately tied to the political-economic value attributed to them by foreign aid diplomacy.

How did architectural knowledge figure in foreign aid-sourced international relations, and what frameworks were set in place to efficiently exchange that knowledge?

For this two-day symposium, we seek scholarly work that critically analyzes, contextualizes, or theorizes the establishment and functioning of such institutional actors, training courses, educational programs, research centers, and other infrastructures for knowledge exchange that emerged under the aegis of development and targeted ‘Third World’ clients. We welcome a wide range of methodological and creative perspectives as well as less empirical (but well-informed) theoretical approaches that interpret this phenomenon from a postcolonial or decolonizing perspective. We also encourage contributions that scrutinize the intersections of these histories with discussions of gender, race, religion and nationalism.

More information and Register here: https://www.architectureforeignaid.arch.kth.se

Online Modernist University Campus Architecture Writing Workshop: A Ghana-Nigeria-UK collaboration

The third iteration of the African Architecture Writing Workshop has involved multi-disciplinary teams of young students and Early Career Researchers (ECRs) from Universities in both Ghana and Nigeria in developing a series short written articles focused on personal views of university campus buildings in Ghana and Nigeria. The ECRs worked directly with the young students as mentors to encourage and develop their writing style. 

The ECRs have also been tasked with compiling and editing student work to create a series of gazette entries for the Modernist University Campus Buildings in West Africa project.  Aside from the written component the ECRs and students have also taken a set of photographs which will form the basis for a future planned photography workshop to be run in association with the International Documentation of Modern Buildings and Landscapes, (Docomomo) team Germany.

The British Academy-funded workshop took place over two weeks starting at the University of Ghana, Legon led by Co-I Dr Irene Appeaning Addo, with support from ECRs Kuukuwa Manful, Emmanuel Ofori-Sarpong, Dr Ayisha Baffoe-Eshun, and Yaw Asare; as well as guest mentor Dr Joseph Oduro-Frimpong. There was a guest lecture from Professor Lesley Lokko. Students from Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, University of Ghana, and Central University College took part in the workshop. Arc Ruth Anne Richardson, Arc Tony Asare, Dr Edem Adotey, and Professor Iain Jackson reviewed the students’ final written pieces that were focused on three buildings on the University of Ghana Campus; Commonwealth, Volta and Legon Halls. 

After a hand over day the Nigeria team’s workshop was led by Co-I Dr Nnezi Uduma-Olugu, and involved three institutions, the University of Lagos, University of Jos and the University of Nigeria, Enugu Campus. Each institution had a number of ECRs who worked at mentoring the interdisciplinary group of students who had enrolled at each of the workshops. As with the Ghana workshop a number of guest speakers including Prof Bogdana Prucnal-Ogunsote, (University of Jos) Kofo Adeleke (Legacy-92 organisation Lagos) and Dr Onyekiekwe Ijeoma, Nigeria commission for Museums. For the Nigerian final critical reviews attended by Prof Lukasz Stanek (University of Manchester) and Dr Joseph Oduro-Frimpong (Asheshi University Ghana) the ECRs presented their edited summaries of the student-written work and views on campus buildings in the three cities.

ECRs then presented their workshop experience at the Lagos Studies Association International Online Conference at a roundtable panel on conservation challenges in Africa chaired by Profs Uduku and Lawanson, Manchester School of Architecture, Manchester Metropolitan University, and University of Lagos respectively. 

Whilst students and ECRs met in covid secure ways at their respective campuses all lectures and reviews took place entirely online, with students and ECRs able to work from ethernet-wifi equipped room spaces at the University of Ghana, and all three Nigerian collaborating Universities.  

Currently ECRs are working on the editing and production of the initial phase of the Modernist African University Campus Buildings Gazette, this will be critically reviewed by Prof Miles Glendinning, Docomomo Scotland and Director SCCS University of Edinburgh. Watch this space…      

Call for Papers

The 20th anniversary of the Modern Heritage Programme, jointly initiated by UNESCO, ICOMOS, and DOCOMOMO, in 2021 presents a timely and important opportunity to reflect on the transformative cultural experiences and global consequences of the recent past that heralded the dawn of the anthropocene and its many impacts on climate, society, and the planet. Despite these impacts, the ‘modern’ era and its legacies are comparatively undervalued and overlooked, and disproportionately concentrated and interpreted in ‘the west’. MoHoA contends that Africa’s experiences of plural modernities include the positive and negative, colonial and post-colonial, tangible and intangible, urban and rural, culture and nature. This will need greater scholarly attention and can be instructive and transformative in framing modernities and modern heritage globally, as well as addressing the challenges of sustainability continentally. On the one hand, Africa’s contemporary cities, many of which are products of modern encounters, face the highest rates of urbanisation in the world over the next half a century, straining populations and resources, urban landscapes and rural hinterlands, and placing modern heritage at serious risk of alteration or destruction. On the other hand, the unique human settlement patterns in Africa, provides a new dimension, reflected in the cultural landscapes, “combining works of nature and humankind, they express a long and intimate relationship between peoples and their natural environment”.

The African World Heritage Fund has identified modern heritage as amongst the most marginalised heritage categories on the continent, demanding investment in research and documentation to better protect, increase resilience and subsequently Africa’s representation on the UNESCO World Heritage List. Through improved methods of understanding and assessing significance, raising public awareness and promoting inscription on local or global registers, Africa’s modern heritage has a vital role in contributing to rural and urban sustainability in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the New Urban Agenda (NUA), the African Union’s Agenda 2063, and the Historic Urban Landscapes (HUL) Approach.

MoHoA plans two symposia over two years and a series of supporting thematic workshops. The first symposium, focusing on Africa, will be hosted by the University of Cape Town in September 2021 and titled ‘Modern Heritage of Africa’. The second will be global in scope and hosted by The Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) in 2022 and titled ‘Modern Heritage in the Anthropocene’. The outcome UCT symposium will lead to proposing a ‘The Cape Town Document on Modern Heritage’ supporting efforts to modify international policy and guidance on modern heritage in line with present and future planetary challenges of ecological, social and economic equity. This will be presented to the World Heritage Committee as part of the reporting exercise and as a side event at the relevant Committee Session. The UCL symposium will discuss the wider implications of the MoHoA globally.

We invite submissions to the International Symposium on the Modern Heritage of Africa and welcome papers and other forms of communication including video, music, performance and literature accompanied with a commentary and interpretation focusing on any of the following themes evolving from the brain storming isivivana last August, highlighting both cultural and natural heritage, the tangible and intangible and their symbiotic relationships:

  • Considerations of modernities in Africa
  • Modern Heritage and Sustainable Development in Africa (SDGs)
  • Infrastructure development, particularly industrialization and transportation systems, as activators of modernism in Africa
  • Natural heritage and its role in society, linking culture and nature
  • Public spaces, memorialization and commemoration in postcolonial Africa
  • Modern Heritage of Africa and the World Heritage Convention
  • Any other theme not covered by the above

Abstracts: Contributions with African experiences of modernities and the sharing of heritage knowledge and we welcome abstracts of up to 300 words or equivalent format (e.g. film shorts, blog, Instagram story) for other types of digital submissions. For general reference in terms of format – see below. To submit an abstract, emailmodernheritageofafrica@gmail.com

The abstracts: Date to be finalised

forming results: Date to be finalised

Publication: Selected papers or presentations will be published as part of the Modern Heritage of Africa Book Series to be published after the conference.

Audience: academia, heritage fields, professionals and practitioners from diverse disciplines addressing the tangible and intangible, culture and nature, documentation, archives and collections. We encourage participation from colleagues and institutions from Africa, particularly from youth and women.

Networking: Institutions of African Studies, Schools of Cultural Studies, Architecture and Planning – African Union and professional bodies.

Languages: Français and English

Dates: 22 and 23 September and 24 September, South Africa Heritage Day 2021

Venue: University of Cape Town, South Africa

Participation: online registration will be required and is free; a $50 donation will be welcome.

Format: The MoHoA symposium will be a virtual, hybid, academic event, a dialogical field capable of moving beyond disciplinary boundaries with social and cultural exchanges. To ground its activities and foster dialogue, we invite proposals, ranging from operational practices to speculative and theoretical questionings. These can be presented in written, built, coded, drawn, figured, imagined, filmed, modelled or in any other format (do not hesitate to consult with us for any exotic format or idea!).

Contributions may take the following forms:

  • Paper presentations that will be shared and discussed through joint working sessions and panel discussions. These might include theoretical work, but also case studies and project reports. To submit your paper proposal, you must submit an abstract of up to 300 words.
  • Projects, models, images, devices, pieces of coding, hardware and all other kinds of contributions. These must be submitted by sending a 300-word optionally illustrated abstract in the form of a single PDF including text and images (max 5mb).
  • Contributions can be signed individually or collectively.

Contributors are welcome to submit more than one proposal in one or more formats. If selected, all contributors are responsible for covering the costs of sending their work in time for presentation. The conference is led by the University of Cape Town and planned virtually with a possible physical component on campus; please state if you would able to attend in person.

If selected, contributors might be assigned to a 15-min paper/project presentation session or a debate session to discuss their work. Or both. These might be done in person, by possibly attending one of the conference’s sites, or remotely. The final format and topics of the sessions will be configured once all submissions have been received, so it is possible and desirable that participants will be grouped in thematically coherent yet interdisciplinary sessions.

All submissions are to be sent to: modernheritageofafrica@gmail.com

 

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

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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

 

 

 

The Transnational Architecture Group Blog is 5 Today!

It’s five years since our first tentative blog post. Since that day we’ve posted over 200 articles, calls for papers, and general research updates on all things architecturally transnational.

One of our major research interests has of course been the work of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, with the publication of the monograph in 2014 and international conference. But that was just the start. Since then we’ve covered Shama Anbrine and Yemi Salami’s PhD work in Pakistan and Nigeria respectively, as well as Cleo Robert’s PhD work in India. Rachel Lee tested and developed our Timescape App in Bangalore and also published a wonderful monograph (with TAG Press) on Otto Koenigsberger. She was also responsible for a major heritage symposium in Dar es Salam. Ola Uduku has been our most prolific ‘commenter’ as well as providing many research updates on our findings in Ghana and organising numerous workshops on the Architecture of Africa. Our current research project has been sponsored by the British Academy and we’re delighted to be collaborating with Rexford Assasie Oppong (KNUST) and Irene Appeaning Addo (Legon University) on this work.  There is going to be a lot more research stemming from this initial project, not least the cataloguing and archiving of the major drawings collection at KNUST, with Łukasz Stanek from Manchester University.

Other forays have taken us to Thailand and the work of Nat Phothiprasat, as well as to Sri Lanka and the plans of Patrick Abercombie.  We’ve posted abstracts and links to many other papers and projects, not least Johan Lagaes and Kathleen James-Chakraborty’s papers. Killian Doherty and Edward Lawrenson’s film on Yekepa promises to be one of the highlights of 2018.

More recent posts have revealed the rich architecture of the Middle East, including Levin’s paper on Ashkelon, William A. Henderson‘s work at Little Aden,  Ben Tosland’s research into Kuwait, Alsalloum’s moving paper on Damascus and Jackson’s paper on the PWD in Iraq. There’s surely a lot more to investigate here.

It’s been great fun, and here’s to the next five years of exciting research, difficult questions, dusty roads and even dustier archives, and of course new discoveries that make everything worthwhile.

We’d like to thank all of the blog contributors (please do continue to send us your updates, research findings and short articles). Thanks also to our committed readers and for all of your kind comments and emails.

Iain Jackson.

 

The Architecture of Edwin Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew:

We’re delighted to announce that our Fry and Drew book is to be published in paperback format in a few days time. This should make it a little more affordable and hopefully accessible to a broader audience in West Africa and India…

9781409451983

https://www.routledge.com/The-Architecture-of-Edwin-Maxwell-Fry-and-Jane-Drew-Twentieth-Century/Jackson-Holland/p/book/9781409451983

 

Oxford University Press will publish ‘Architecture and Urbanism in the British Empire’ on 7th October 2016. Below is a brief synopsis from the publishers website.

9780198713326

Throughout today’s postcolonial world, buildings, monuments, parks, streets, avenues, entire cities even, remain as witness to Britain’s once impressive if troubled imperial past. These structures are a conspicuous and near inescapable reminder of that past, and therefore, the built heritage of Britain’s former colonial empire is a fundamental part of how we negotiate our postcolonial identities, often lying at the heart of social tension and debate over how that identity is best represented.

This volume provides an overview of the architectural and urban transformations that took place across the British Empire between the seventeenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Although much research has been carried out on architecture and urban planning in Britain’s empire in recent decades, no single, comprehensive reference source exists. The essays compiled here remedy this deficiency. With its extensive chronological and regional coverage by leading scholars in the field, this volume will quickly become a seminal text for those who study, teach, and research the relationship between empire and the built environment in the British context. It provides an up-to-date account of past and current historiographical approaches toward the study of British imperial and colonial architecture and urbanism, and will prove equally useful to those who study architecture and urbanism in other European imperial and transnational contexts.

The volume is divided in two main sections. The first section deals with overarching thematic issues, including building typologies, major genres and periods of activity, networks of expertise and the transmission of ideas, the intersection between planning and politics, as well as the architectural impact of empire on Britain itself. The second section builds on the first by discussing these themes in relation to specific geographical regions, teasing out the variations and continuities observable in context, both practical and theoretical.

Table of Contents:

Introduction
Architecture, Urbanism, and British Imperial Studies, G. A. Bremner
PART I: Themes in British Imperial and Colonial Architecture and Urbanism
1: Beginnings: Early Colonial Architecture, Daniel Maudlin
2: Urbanism and Master Planning: Configuring the Colonial City, Robert Home and Anthony D. King
3: Stones of Empire: Monuments, Memorials, and Manifest Authority, G. A. Bremner
4: The Metropolis: Imperial Buildings and Landscapes in Britain, G. A. Bremner
5: Propagating Ideas and Institutions: Religious and Educational Architecture, G. A. Bremner and Louis P. Nelson
6: Imperial Modernism, Mark Crinson
Part II Regional Continuity, Divergence, and Variation in the British World
7: British North America and the West Indies, Harold Kalman and Louis P. Nelson
8: South and Southeast Asia, Preeti Chopra
9: The Australian Colonies, Stuart King and Julie Willis
10: New Zealand and the Pacific, Ian Lochhead and Paul Walker
11: Sub-Saharan Africa, Iain Jackson and Ola Uduku
12: Egypt and Mandatory Palestine and Iraq, Samuel D. Albert

Further details here: https://global.oup.com/academic/product/architecture-and-urbanism-in-the-british-empire-9780198713326?cc=ro&lang=en&# 

Are the pleas to save Delhi’s iconic Pragati Maidan falling on deaf ears?

by 

The pleas against the “mindless destruction” have been met with deaf ears.

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Last year, architect and planner Arun Rewal started a petition on Change.org to appeal to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to save three iconic buildings in Delhi’s Pragati Maidan from demolition. The Hall of Nations, Hall of Industries and Nehru Pavilion, the petition says, are acknowledged the world over as “icons of modernity”. To raze them would be to destroy a part of our heritage.

The Indian Institute of Architects made a similar plea around the same time. “We have learnt that some of the iconic structures… which stood testimony to the nation’s prowess in structural engineering and architecture… are being demolished,” the national body of architects said in a letter to the Indian government. It beseeched against the razing of the structures.

By all signs, the entreaties have swayed nobody.

It was in November 2015 that the demolition of the exhibition halls at Pragati Maidan, under a redevelopment project proposed by Commerce Ministry’s India Trade Promotion Organisation, was confirmed. In their stead, the government plans to construct a state-of-the-art convention centre, a hotel and a parking lot – much to the horror of Indian architects.

In a written reply to the Lok Sabha in 2015, Commerce and Industry Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said, “As per preliminary details of phase-I, it is proposed to develop 100,000 sq. m. of exhibition space and a 7,000 seater convention centre along with support facilities and parking space for 4,800 passenger cars. Other details, such as funding and schedule of completion, are yet to be firmed up.”

The threatened buildings were constructed between 1969 and 1972, the year independent India turned 25. Designed by architect Raj Rewal, Arun Rewal’s uncle, and engineer Mahendra Raj, the three structures were held up as symbols of a progressive India and they have gained iconicity for their modern architecture.

Anyone who has grown up in the national capital knows them intimately. Most Delhiites have visited the buildings during one fair or another at Pragati Maidan, be it a book fair, auto expo (before it shifted to Noida) or trade fair. Just walking through the zig-zag, fenced path leading up to Pragati Maidan’s ticket counter, dragging a tote bag (or four) for books, is enough to inspire nostalgia in many.

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Raj Rewal in front of the Hall of Nations

The Hall of Nations was designed by Raj Rewal in the traditional jali (mesh) form to serve as a sun breaker. As architect Malini Kochupillai wrote, the buildings “had an effective system of environmental control, thanks to the three-dimensional structure, with solid triangular panels at regular intervals providing sunscreens – a modern equivalent of the traditional jali ubiquitous in Indian architecture ” . The modernist icons were built despite the constraints of time and material.

Raj Rewal was awarded the French Knight of the Legion of Honour, the highest civilian distinction, in March for his outstanding service to the country. It is ironic that the award comes at a time when his best-known creation in India is about to be pulled down.

“It is not just me who wants these buildings left up,” said Raj Rewal. “The entire architectural profession thinks it is an important part of New Delhi and that it will be in everyone’s best interest if these are not demolished. It has been showcased all over the world in exhibitions as a model for 20th century architecture. These need to survive. They are a reflection of what India was in the 1970s. Destroying them would be like destroying any historic building.”

When various bodies representing art and architecture in India and around the world – the Indian Institute of Architects, the Centre national d’art et de culture Georges Pompidou in Paris, and New York’s Museum of Modern Art – got to know about the demolition proposal, they wrote letters to Sitharaman, asking that the architectural sites be preserved.

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The Nehru Pavilion

“The Hall of Nations is known in Europe as in United States as the first large-scale spatial structure in concrete in the world,” writes MoMA in its letter. “Built in a time of great optimism for the future, both structures were seminal in forging a new, modern identity for Indian society and architecture. They are architectural masterpieces and important witnesses of an important chapter of Indian history.”

In another letter, Aurelien Lemonier of Centre Pompidou, which houses the largest museum for modern art in Europe, requests the preservation and maintenance of these structures: “From our understanding, the Hall of Nations and the Nehru Pavilion should be considered as a major heritage of the post-independence architecture and need to be preserved. We want then to express our support and our wish to contribute to the recognition of these two great pieces of architecture and their proper maintenance as part of the architectural heritage.”

There has been no response to the letters from the India Trade Promotion Organisation or from the office of Nirmala Sitharaman.

“It is a part of the city’s memory and people should care because it is a space that belongs to people,” said Arun Rewal. “The importance and potential of the building would be obvious to me even if I wasn’t an architect. The Hall of Nations is a space that can be used in a million different ways. It could be the new Jantar Mantar where the public could stage protests. It could be a new city hall of sorts. It is a little rundown but it’s nothing that can’t be fixed and definitely doesn’t warrant its demolition.”

Arun Rewal stressed that there are very few covered public spaces in Delhi where people can go, sit, and hang out. The Hall of Nations can be adapted for any of these various uses, he says.

According to historian and photographer Ram Rahman, the demolition of the Pragati Maidan structures, especially of the Nehru Pavilion, is ideological in nature. His architect father Habib Rahman is credited with several buildings built under Jawaharlal Nehru’s leadership. “It is a part of a concerted effort to demolish Nehru’s legacy and symbols of Nehru’s modern India,” said Rahman. “It is a part of India’s collective cultural heritage. When these were constructed in 1972, there was no question of the general public not knowing about its existence. The problem is that the public has never been made to think of contemporary architecture as heritage. They need to be educated in the importance of these buildings.”

Architects have noted that there is sufficient space within Pragati Maidan and around the threatened buildings, which take no more than about 3% of the 150 acres of Pragati Maidan, to accommodate new programmes and “adaptive reuses”.

“Efforts should be made to update these spaces with modern facilities and amenities rather than let weak arguments, such as ‘lack of air conditioning’, become reasons for their demolition,” said Arun Rewal. “Just because these buildings are old doesn’t mean they need to be removed. You won’t get rid of your elderly grandmother because she is taking up space, would you?”

Republished from: http://scroll.in/article/806025/are-the-pleas-to-save-pragati-maidan-falling-on-deaf-ears

3D Printed Model of Kenneth Dike Library

We’ve been playing with a couple of 3D printers [Makerbot and Ultimaker] and testing how they might be used to create a small collection of models to supplement our History of Architecture lectures.

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In the age of ‘Stream Capture’ and recorded lectures including a small exhibition of key case study models in the lecture theatre will hopefully entice the students to attend the live event and will also form an opportunity to further explore light, scale and the qualities of buildings that are not as easily expressed through photographs and orthographic drawings.

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Our first test case used a computer model of the Kenneth Dike Library, Ibadan [designed by Fry and Drew] expertly produced by Jacopo Galli and generously shared with us. The model doesn’t show the entire buiding but a key section enabing the interior to be viewed. The ambition is a for an online library of models that can be downloaded and then printed as and when they are required by faculty and students.

 

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Conserving West African Modernism Workshop and Conference Report

KNUST Kumasi, 2 – 18th July 2015

From the 2nd to 18th July 2015 Ola Uduku spent time at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), Kumasi Ghana, working with Dr Rexford Assasie Oppong, to set up and run the inaugural “Conserving West African Modernism” workshop culminating in an international conference held from the 13th – 14th July at KNUST.

There were a number of objectives for the project; firstly the visit provided an initial attempt to explore the possibilities of Edinburgh University’s Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies, (SCCS) and Architecture School becoming involved in research collaboration activities centred on the Modernist heritage of the KNUST campus both in terms of architectural history and also international- tropical conservation practice. Also included in this collaboration was the Liverpool University School of Architecture, (LSA) which has research expertise and archival material on the work of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew who were involved in the development of Kumasi and Ghana’s post-WW2 architectural heritage.

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Second, the project sought to make an initial assessment of the modernist heritage site and buildings at KNUST with a view to using these as a basis for documentation, to support the application for Ghana to become a member of the international modernism conservation organisation Docomomo International. This also included a public outreach element in which the project engaged with local university school children in a campus buildings tour and questionnaire session to raise awareness and interest in the buildings on the KNUST campus.

Third, the project sought to explore the possibilities of having the SCCS at Edinburgh University support the development of an MSc. Course in conservation and also contributions to architectural history teaching, initially via online courses, using available media technology at both institutions. In connection with this, linkages to architectural history teaching at the Liverpool School of Architecture and its future research-links with Ghana were also examined.

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Also at public and international outreach level, work was undertaken with Junior high school students to raise awareness about the modernist architectural legacy on the Kumasi campus, via a series of tours, discussions and ‘snap-voting’ on buildings judged ‘best’ by the pupils. At the international level the project enlisted PG architecture students to work on listing key campus buildings, using the Docomomo, (the international organisation for conserving modernist buildings and landscapes), fiche listing template. This is with a view to working with KNUST staff and students towards compiling material required to apply for Ghana’s membership of Docomomo in the next biennial conference in 2016.

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The project culminated with a well-attended two-day conference at KNUST, where keynote speeches were given by; KNUST Professor emeritus H. Wellington, and Professor Miles Glendinning, Director SCCS, University of Edinburgh. Teams of Junior High School and KNUST Architecture PG students also gave presentations, showing the work they had done during the preceding week’s ‘KNUST Modernism’ workshops.

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Providently the conference also heard the views and reminiscences of Profs Wellington, Owuso Addo, and Arc. J Larbi, all eminent Ghanaian architects and educators, who had been historically involved with the development of the campus, since its inception in the mid 1950s to the 1990s, who attended the workshop. Representatives from the Ghana Institute of Architects, the Lands and Survey office at KNUST, associated faculty staff from the College of Architecture, Arts, and Planning, and from the ArchiAfrika organisation, were also in attendance.

The various workshops and final conference was made possible by funding and in–kind support received from a number of bodies including: The African Studies Association UK, ArchiAfrika, The University of Edinburgh, The University of Liverpool and KNUST.

The Communique below was issued at the conclusion of the conference:

Conserving West African Modernism and Urbanism Research Workshop and Conference Communiqué

 At the inaugural workshop / conference, ‘Conserving West African Modernism and Urbanism’, held at KNUST, Kumasi, Ghana on 13-14 July 2015 – an event which involved staff and student participants from the KNUST Junior High School, KNUST Architecture postgraduates, and which was attended by a range of national and international invitees including the Ghanaian architectural luminaries Prof. J. Owusu-Addo, Prof. H. N. A. Wellington, and Arc. S. O. Larbi, along with Prof. Miles Glendinning from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland – it was agreed to pursue the following specific objectives:

  • To continue with the primary objective of the project in supporting and developing an appreciation and culture of conservation in West Africa, in collaboration with DOCOMOMO International – commencing with the task of researching and conserving the heritage modernist movement campus layout and buildings at KNUST, Kumasi, and pursuing the establishment of a Ghanaian national chapter of DOCOMOMO;
  • To work to develop collaborative research links related to KNUST’s building history, with the Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (University of Edinburgh) and the Liverpool School of Architecture (University of Liverpool), with expected joint academic research outputs.
  • To explore the possibilities of developing a Department of Architecture -KNUST Masters programme in history/ conservation studies with support and collaboration from the Scottish Centre for Conservation Studies (SCCS) at the University of Edinburgh, and the Liverpool School of Architecture (LSA);
  • To seek funding to develop a West African Modernism Archival Project, (WAMAP) which would have the Department of Architecture, KNUST as its centre. Its objective will be to create a digital archive of KNUST’s extant material records of its historical development, comprising plans, models, and oral histories contributed by surviving actors involved in the founding and development of the campus. This project would aim ultimately to evolve into an international centre and nexus for modernist building research in West Africa.

In this communiqué we also acknowledge the desirability of developing full links with cognate research and academic bodies within Ghana, including the Institute of African Studies and the Department of Archaeology and Heritage Studies, at the University of Ghana, Legon, together with other associated educational and professional institutions, including the Ghana Museums and Monuments Board, the Ghana National Archives, the Ghana Institute of Architects, and ArchiAfrika.

  15th July 2015
Dr Rexford Assasie Oppong Dr Ola Uduku
Department of Architecture,

Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana

Edinburgh School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture,

University of Edinburgh, Scotland

*** Further news, Iain Jackson, Rexford Assasie Oppong and Ola Uduku will be collaborating on a British Academy Funded International Partnership and Mobility Grant “Architecture and planning in the Tropics; from Imperial Gold Coast to Tropical Ghana“,  starting in November 2015. ***