Tag Archives: Nigeria

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…      

The University of Liverpool and The National Archives are pleased to announce the availability of a fully funded collaborative doctoral studentship, under the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Collaborative Doctoral Partnership (CDP) scheme.

Using The National Archives extensive collections the project will investigate how the West African ‘built environment’ has been shaped to respond to various political, economic, and welfare demands and ambitions. The particular timeframe will cover the transition from colonial rule into independence period. After tracking these broader notions across ‘British West Africa’, the project will pursue a narrower focus on one of the four former British colonies.

How were ideas of ‘self’, identity, freedom, and so on, expressed through new construction and town planning? How did former colonisers, and other foreign groups attempt to shape and influence these developments in the ‘post-colonial’ period. How were notions of identity, nation, and ‘new beginnings’ expressed by the postcolonial nations?

The aim of the project is to investigate how political ideas, and notions surrounding identity, nationhood, and statecraft are expressed or manifest through the built environment.

Infrastructure, prestige projects, and grand architectural schemes are often used to infer power, or suggest modernity, development, and progress. Equally, more (seemingly) mundane developments, such as housing, can be as revealing in terms of power structures and wider ambition. In a problematic and contested political situation these types of projects become highly charged and significant expressions of a nation’s collective (and often contested) identity. This is even more meaningful in a colonial context, and architecture, town planning and infrastructure, in part, become symbolic expressions of the colonial power. 

The objective of this project is to examine these notions within the West African context over a period of time that spans the late colonial era and early post-colonial period. This was a particularly volatile moment, charged with excitement and optimism, and a desire to somehow ‘start again’ and rebuild a new nation with a new vision. Architecture and planning would shift from being expressions of colonial dominance and subjugation to being expressions of nationalism, hope, and modernisation. 

It is sometimes tempting to see the event of Independence as an abrupt and sudden moment. The clock strikes twelve and everything suddenly changes – and whilst this is true, it is also oversimplifying a complex event that is, to some degree, still being played-out today. There is also a sense of inertia in the built environment and existing city plans, methods of development, and networks of expertise stubbornly persist and outlast political dynasties.

The desire for the newly independent nations to express their hard-fought freedom through physical, often large-scale triumphant (sometimes infrastructure) projects was met with the former colonial power’s aspiration to continue offering technical assistance, expertise, and trade. It resulted in a complex blend of nationalism, reimagining/reinventing identity and Pan-African ambition, further mixed with the additional influences of ‘non-aligned’ socialist assistance and US, World Bank, and UN concerns. 

The independence of these nations was not an abrupt severance from the former colonial power, but a feathered, gradual transition coupled with intense global interest eager to retain or cultivate influence and trade advantage. 

It makes for a fascinating narrative that reveals the shift from overt imperialism, to one of post-WW2 ‘technical assistance’, ‘development’, and fiscal packages from an array of competing agencies and organisations, met with a desire to express African modernisation, liberation, and success. 

Start date 1st October 2021

Applications due 25th May 2021

Interviews planned for 22nd June 2021

For any enquiries please contact: Professor Iain Jackson on:

How to Apply:
To apply for this studentship, please send the following documents to

 Full Curriculum Vitae (CV)

Cover Letter expressing motivation for applying and pursuing a PhD on this topic.

Project Plan: This is your chance to set out how you would like to design and plan the research project and should not exceed 1000 words. Please produce a Project Plan that includes the following headings:

  • Proposed project outline and suggested research questions
  • Proposed Methodology
  • The National Archives / other archival sources to be consulted
  • Selected Bibliography.

The project can be undertaken on a full-time or part-time basis.

CDP doctoral training grants fund full-time studentships for 45 months (3.75 years) or part-time equivalent. The studentship has the possibility of being extended for an additional 3 months to provide professional development opportunities, or up to 3 months of funding may be used to pay for the costs the student might incur in taking up professional development opportunities.    

The student is eligible to claim additional travel and research related expenses (worth up to £1000 per year for four years) during the course of the project, courtesy of The National Archives.

·      We want to encourage the widest range of potential students to study for a CDP studentship and are committed to welcoming students from different backgrounds to apply. We particularly welcome applications from Black, Asian, Minority Ethnic backgrounds as they are currently underrepresented at this level in this area. 

·      Applicants should have an undergraduate degree in subjects allied to the Built Environment/Architecture/History/Cultural Geography.

·      A Masters level qualification is desirable but not essential. Applicants may be able to demonstrate equivalent experience in a professional setting (e.g. producing and researching written reports, public outreach and liason, working with collections and archives).

·      Experience of working in West Africa is desirable but not essential.

·      Applicants must be able to demonstrate an interest in the archives sector and potential and enthusiasm for developing skills more widely in related areas.

·      As a collaborative award, students will be expected to spend time at both the University and The National Archives.

·      All applicants must meet the UKRI terms and conditions for funding

Who to contact

Related content


Open to students worldwideFunding information

Funded studentship

This is a joint project with AHRC Collaborative Doctoral Partnership programme. The external partner is the National Archive, Kew. See View Website
The award pays full maintenance for all students, both home and international students. The National Minimum Doctoral Stipend for 2021/22 is £15,609, plus an allowance of £1000 per year and a CDP maintenance payment of £550 per year.


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.

New Research: Prof. Robert Home, ‘From cantonments to townships: Lugard’s influence upon British colonial urban governance in Africa’ in Planning Perspectives, Pages 1-22 | Published online: 20 Aug 2017

Abstract: The cantonment has been a neglected topic of planning history, yet is significant for urban landscapes and governance in both India and Africa. Drawing upon scholarship in critical comparative legal geography, path dependency and Foucault’s genealogical method, the article explores the transfer of laws and regulations for urban governance by networks of knowledge and actors, tracing a line of descent from rules for cantonments in British India, through Lugard’s Nigerian period, and his indirect rule policy to townships and local government ordinances. The influence of Lugard’s Political Memoranda and Dual Mandate books is evidenced through the work of various senior officials moving between colonies, specifically South Africa, Kenya, and Northern Rhodesia.

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.


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.


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.



“Zbigniew Dmochowski and the politics of architectural drawing in post-independence Nigeria” by Dr Łukasz Stanek

Dr Dr Łukasz Stanek from Manchester Architecture Research Centre will be presenting an illustrated lecture at the Goethe-Institut in Lagos on Saturday July 25 at 3PM. Dmochowski conducted some extraordinary studies into the architecture of Nigeria, expressing his findings through drawings and scale models.

TAG looks forward to hearing more about this research – updates to follow.


Scottish independence. Should there be an independent Scotland, or should Scotland remain an integral part of the United Kingdom? As the clock ticks closer to the proposed referendum on 18 September 2014, the debate rages on. Although the mid-twentieth century independence of West African nations took place under completely different circumstances, this article uses the present independence debate to re-ignite a discussion on Nigeria’s decolonization years, the attainment of independence and the architecture which emerged as a consequence.


The Governor General of Nigeria Sir James Robertson, and the new Nigerian Prime Minister Sir Abubakar Tafawa Balewa on Oct 1, 1960


The clamour for independence and self-rule in West Africa gradually began after World War II.  This achieved its highpoint in 1957, when Ghana became the first African nation to attain independence and transit from colonial rule to self-governance. One feature which perhaps, became widely synonymous with the country’s drive for independence was the Pan-Africanist movement and the frontline role of Kwame Nkrumah, who later became Ghana’s pioneering president. However, a less referenced but equally important tribute to Ghana’s independence, were the architectural monuments which were constructed to commemorate the event. Chief among these is the Accra independence arch.


Independence Arch, Accra, 1957


As with Ghana, self-governance calls had pervaded different levels of Nigerian society before the October 1 1960 independence date. The most prominent perhaps were those propagated through African edited newspapers like the West African Pilot, and which echoed the voices of native elites and politicians. Nigeria’s formal decolonization process however appears to have started with the 1945 promulgation of Richard’s constitution. Not only had this constitution granted greater levels of native participation in the legislative house, it equally paved way for the much sought after regional system of governance. Nigeria was therefore reorganized along political and administrative lines into a Western region with headquarters at Ibadan, a Northern region with headquarters at Kaduna, and, an Eastern region with headquarters at Enugu, while Lagos remained the Federal Headquarters. With this new organizational structure came the formation of regional houses of Assembly and the election of its representative members.


Design for Eastern Nigeria parliamentary complex, 1960

Of equal importance were the new parliamentary complexes being built to usher in the emerging era of self-governance, beginning from October 1 1960. The new buildings may therefore be described as some of Nigeria‘s most prominent symbols of transition to self-rule, and were indeed the ‘architecture of independence’.















European Architectural History Network Conference in Turin

The European Architectural History Network (EAHN) held their third international conference in Turin from 19th-22nd April. The conference included several papers with a transnational theme and thanks to the generosity of the presenters/authors we’ve included some of their abstracts below:

S3.1 Concrete Conduits in Gandhi’s Ashram. Tangled Environmental Aesthetics in Post-Independence Indian Modernism

Ateya Khorakiwala Harvard University, USA

Post-independence India’s conception of nature as risk-resource system fuelled its project of modernization. Dams were construed as techno-scientific operations in systems designed to circumvent disaster. The corresponding cultural project of architectural modernism borrowed anti-colonial politics’ essentialist strategy, foregrounding a search for identity and taking its cue from climate and vernacular technology. Although driven by resourcedearth, Indian modernists wrought scarcity into an aesthetic language: louvers, chajjas, verandahs, and lattices came to dominate Indian modernism’s vocabulary. For Charles Correa, climate provided raw material for a new, yet ancient, aesthetic language. His early conceptual project – the Tube House (1962) – a unit designed to be low cost and easily multiplied, used deep louvers, a courtyard, and shaded windows to regulate the internal climate. The prototype has been called “ahead of its time”, as if it were a proleptic part of sustainability; however, the project was rooted in a different set of political and aesthetic lineages that came into play in a parallel project, a museum commission that he won right out of MIT. The Sabarmati Ashram, built on the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s home in Gujarat, in homage to the leader, sat at the intersection of three distinct intellectual lineages – Gandhi’s politics, Tagore’s aesthetics, and Nehru’s techno-science. This paper uses Correa’s Sabarmati Ashram project to interrogate the threads of environmental consciousness nested within the decolonization paradigm to argue that although these threads look like sustainability, they belong to a different history, and although they seemed to be a counter-narrative to big science and big dams, they were wrought of the same anti-colonial political origins. Although the Gandhi/Nehru/Tagore lineage was politically contradictory and certainly never resolved, this paper will look for architectural and aesthetic references to limn the alternate possibilities for what environmental consciousness may have been before the 1970s.


S3.4 Experiments on Thermal Comfort and Modern Architecture: the Contributions of André Missenard and Le Corbusier

Ignacio Requena Ruiz Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture Nantes, France

Daniel Siret Ecole Nationale Superieure d’Architecture Nantes, France

The early scientific researches into the thermo-regulative response of the human body during the 1920s and the 1930s normalized thermal conditions in working and educational environments to improve user’s performance. The European and American contexts of housing promotion and industrial development during post-war extended this approach to different environments. Geographers, physiologists and engineers encouraged manufactured indoor atmospheres that could overcome human shortcomings resulting from environmental and biological conditions. Climate, indoor atmospheres and human body were interlinked to develop the ideal environment for modern society. Paradoxically, these original notions and researches have been used to promote both bioclimatic and weatherized architectures along the second half of the twentieth century. The French engineer, researcher and industrialist Andre Missenard was a prominent contributor to the study on the thermo-physiology of comfort as well as its experimental application to engineering and architecture. As a collaborator of the architect Le Corbusier, his influence not only attempted technical fields, but to the whole notion of the ideal environment for modern society. Consequently, Le Corbusier’s works during the post-war became a collective laboratory on hygro-thermal control, where passive and active systems were constructs of what Missenard called “artificial climates”. Based on an original research at the Foundation Le Corbusier archives and the French National Library, this communication presents the design method of the Grille Climatique and the buildings for the Millowners Association (Ahmadabad, India) and the House of Brazil (Paris, France) as study cases. As a result, the paper discusses the influence of physiology and environmental technology in the early approaches to thermal environments in architecture, what afterwards supported both bioclimatic and mechanical viewpoints.


S3.5 The United Nations Headquarters and the Global Environment

Alexandra Quantrill Columbia University, USA

The realization of the United Nations Headquarters between 1946 and 1952 marked the onset of a complex relationship between environmental management and global development in the postwar period. Designed by an international committee of architects, the headquarters were a vexed monument to world peace. At the same time the work of the fledgling institution reflected its incipient stance on environmental and economic concerns of a global order. The 1949 United Nations Conference on the Conservation and Utilization of Resources promoted international cooperation in allocating scientific research to resource disparity as a means of keeping the peace. Scientists, engineers, and technical experts offered strategies for prosperous member states to address resource deficiencies within developing tropical and arctic regions, which were presented as the last frontiers of cultivation. Lewis Mumford remained highly circumspect regarding the UN Headquarters’ representation of a new global order, questioning its unconscious symbolism of the “managerial revolution” and monopoly capitalism. Indeed, Mumford pitted the degradations of mechanization against his theory of organic synthesis, in which science and the machine support life processes rather than diminishing them. By contrast, in his presentation of the UN headquarters Le Corbusier presented the organic in terms of an exact biology facilitated by new technology. Purportedly to address the diverse climactic origins of the UN delegates, the envelope of the UN Secretariat was designed to function as a manipulable environmental control system accommodating the global population housed within, thereby fostering harmonious relations. Internationally published and widely imitated, the details of this thin, flat, smooth surface of modernism embodied enmeshed aesthetic and technical ambitions. Drawing from contemporary discourses on technology and the organic, this paper will scrutinize the ways in which the UN invoked science to address environmental management at a global and a highly proximate level.


PhDRT2.1 Ahmedabad. Workshop of Modern Architecture: The National Institute of Design

Elisa Alessandrini Universite degli Studi di Bologna, Italy

The subject of this research is the National Institute of Design (known as NID) designed by Gautam Sarabhai and his sister Gira in the city of Ahmedabad, India. This project has been selected because it highlights the two faces of post-colonial India; a nation that sought to amalgamate modern institutions with traditions from the past. Designed in 1961-1964 and built in 1966-1968, NID is one of the most convincing examples of this synthesis. The decades 1940-1960 are the time frame of this study, corresponding to a period of great intellectual upheaval in India following independence from British rule. In these years, the first generation of Indian postcolonial architects created buildings of considerable importance and had close contact with Western modern masters. NID is part of this chronological framework. The wider survey is restricted to educational buildings constructed by Indian architects in Ahmedabad, and highlights the influence of masters such as Le Corbusier, Louis Kahn, and other Western professionals who participated in this climate of cultural exchange. While Frank Lloyd Wright and Walter Gropius welcomed talented young Indian architects into their schools or studios, they themselves never went to the sub-continent. Their American and European colleagues, however, such as Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, Buckminster Fuller, Enrico Peressutti, Harry Weese, and Frei Otto, had a direct dialogue with the emerging generation of Indian architects through their presence on site in India. The architecture designed by Achyut Kanvinde, Gautam and Gira Sarabhai, Balkrishna Doshi and Charles Correa, just to name a few Indian architects of that new generation, are a clear evidence of these contacts. The National Institute of Design found its seat in Ahmedabad, a city favoured by young Indian architects and a centre of decolonization. The thesis examines some aspects of post-colonial Indian architecture and its outcomes, in particular in Ahmedabad, which must be considered a real laboratory of Indian modernity. NID is a national institution of great importance which, like its designers Gautam Sarabhai (1917- 1995) and Gira Sarabhai (1923), has never been the subject of research and rarely mentioned in history books of post-colonial India. With this study, the author aims to restore NID’s value and reputation and give voice to its designers, investigating the central role of the Sarabhais in the modernization of Ahmedabad and more generally of the country. Thanks to their wide national and international network, Gautam and Gira Sarabhai were key figures in the cultural development of Ahmedabad, and the creation of NID is one of the most significant examples of intellectual exchange between East and West. The study illustrates how the fertile friendships between Indian and Western architects, but also traditions from the past, are reflected in the NID project. This thesis is based on archival research in a number of archives in India, Europe and North America.


S23.5 “Housing Before Street”: Geddes’ 1925 Plan for Tel Aviv and its Anarchist Disruption of the Dichotomy between Top- Down Planners-Ideologues and Bottom-Up Urban Citizens

Yael Allweil, Technion, Israel

A founding member of the city planning movement, Sir Patrick Geddes was largely marginal to the movement for his anarchistic challenge of the very idea that new cities form “of thin air” due to the powerful actions of statesmen, capitalists and planners (Hall, 2002; Rubin, 2009). Geddes self-distinguished from conceptions of modern planning, insisting that “urban planning cannot be made from above using general principles […] studied in one place and imitated elsewhere. City planning is the development of a local way of life, regional character, civic spirit, unique personality […] based on its own foundations” (Geddes, 1915). Geddes’ urban vision was affected by issues of housing in the industrial city, yet compared with other theories of urban planning, Geddes’ “city of sweat equity” approach to urban housing “contributed to planning theory the idea that men and women could make their own cities” (Hall, 2002). A perfect match with Tel Aviv founders’ ideas of the city as accumulation of future-citizens as a vehicle for self-government (Weiss, 1956), Geddes’ 1925 plan for Tel Aviv, based on detailed survey of the town as housing estate, accepted Tel Aviv’s use of housing as building block to produce a “Housing before Street” urban planning. Geddes’ Tel Aviv plan poses alternative to accepted models of modern planning: technocratic-capitalist Haussmanism, aesthetic City Beautiful, Corbusian “radiant cities”, or utopian Garden City. At the same time, contrary to the phenomenon of makeshift housing predating formal settlement and creating the city de-facto, as in the auto-constructed peripheries of Cairo, Brasilia or Calcutta (Holston, 2008), Tel Aviv’s formation via housing was the result of a conscious, anarchist, planning process where Geddes fully realized his ideas: not merely challenging top-down mechanisms, but disrupting the very dichotomous perspective of modern urbanism as a clash between topdown planners-ideologues and bottom- up urban citizens.


S13.1 The Afro-Brazilian Portuguese Style in Lagos

Ola Uduku, The University of Edinburgh, UK

This paper seeks to re-evaluate the categorisation of “Brazilian” style architecture on Lagos Island. For long the notion of the Brazilian style, Aguda houses on the island has allowed for an exotic reading of the built form, allegedly transmitted to Lagos through the labour and construction skills of mainly Yoruba repatriated African slaves from Brazil and elsewhere in South America. Whilst the original owners of these buildings would have had contact with Brazil, the essential styling can be traced back to Portugal, and indeed is seen in earlier traditional architecture in locations such as Benin (Nigeria) and parts of coastal West Africa, which had centuries earlier had contact with Portuguese traders. The paper seeks to question the labelling of the Afro Brazilian style on these buildings in Lagos, with no reference to earlier Portuguese-European influences on their styling. What does this tell us about the embodied identity of the built form and its presentation within a richer African mediated cultural discourse related to past remembered and forgotten histories? I will be relying on the use of textual histories of Lagos, as well as existing records of buildings in areas such as Campos Square in Central Lagos, the epicentre of what was considered to be Lagos’s Brazilian Quarter.


S13.3 Architecture of Sun and Soil. European Architecture in Tropical Australia

Deborah van der Plaat University of Queensland, Australia

Substituting climatic theories of difference, a conception that was common to the eighteenth century, with biological propositions – an approach advanced in the nineteenth century by Victorian theorists of race – aided Britain’s territorial interests in tropical India (Harrison 1999). Breaking the association between racial distinctiveness and climate and identifying difference and superiority with biological attributes effectively negated questions relating to the viability of white settlement within the world’s tropical regions. Parallel strategies, as Evans (2007) and Anderson (2002) have argued, were also evident within early twentieth-century Australia. Here a “series of influential scientific and medical writers boosted a vision of virile whites defeating the sickness and neurasthenia in the tropics”. Previously positioned as a “hot bed of disease”, tropical Australia now became the “staging ground” for a “higher type” of white Australian – a distinctive “tropical type […] a new race, bred of sun and soil” (Evans 2007: 173-175). The aim of this paper is to consider the strategies developed in the first half of the twentieth century that permitted the acclimatisation of the white man and his architecture to tropical Australia. A particular focus will be the correlation between an emerging discourse on a tropical architecture in northern Australia and the writings of Anton Breinl, Rapheal Cilento and Jack Elkington, directors of the Australian Institute of Tropical Medicine. Demonstrating the Institute’s interest in theories of racial segregation and eugenics in addition to preventative medicine and hygiene (Anderson 2002), the paper suggests these writings offer an alternative “Rationale” for the tropical architecture of twentieth-century Australia revealing a logic which extends beyond the instrumental concerns of comfort and amelioration to consider more broadly theories of race, culture, politics and place.


S13.4 Health, Hygiene and Sanitation in Colonial India

Iain Jackson Liverpool University, UK

Using guidebooks, pamphlets and government reports this paper will investigate British notions of health, sanitation and hygiene in India with respect to city infrastructure and housing, focusing on the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Nearly all colonial planning, housing and large infrastructure projects were concerned, if not obsessed, with providing “clean” and “healthy” solutions for their European residents. Of course, notions of cleanliness are far from fixed or absolute. Whilst scientists and the medical profession looked for cures to the many diseases and ailments that afflicted the European populations in the Tropics, running in parallel was a belief that the built fabric and wider city planning also had a significant impact on the health of its visitors and occupants. It is this kinship that tropical architecture and tropical medicine share that I want to investigate. Moving beyond the mere separation of local and European dwellings, what other tangible attempts were made to improve sanitation, hygiene and health? The annual public health and sanitation reports for all the major cities and provinces of India provide an acute picture of the correlation between disease, sanitation and city infrastructure. Is there any connection with the outbreak of disease, perceptions of filth and attempts to prevent such an occurrence? In addition to the citywide governmental approach what of the domestic arrangement and smallscale adjustments to residences? What practical tips and advice were dispensed to those about to embark to India from Britain and how were British notions of domesticity tempered to suit the Indian conditions? Again, within publications devoted to health a chapter is frequently included on “the house”. It is through these two extremes of scale that this paper hopes to contribute to the historicizing of the tropical architecture canon and to explore the connection between health and architecture in the tropics.


S13.5 Climate, Disaster, Shelter: Architecture, Humanitarianism, and the Problem of the Tropics

Anooradha Iyer Siddiqi New York University, USA

This paper presents a little-studied history of exchange between architectural practice and humanitarian intervention, predicated upon a technology and rhetoric around climate formulated between actors in Europe and the tropical zones in the second half of the twentieth century. Materially, humanitarian activity during and after the Cold War left a vast global footprint, with planned spaces and designed artifacts responding to tropical environments at local levels. Rhetorically, an abstracted notion of climate masked international development agendas inherent in this activity, embedding them within an architectural discourse around environmental disaster in the tropics that contributed to broad anxieties of the period. Culturally, congregations from the early 1950s to the present in the legacy of “tropical architecture” consistently directed a professional architectural gaze upon issues of hygiene and biopolitics in the global South, providing urgent claims for a discipline flirting with postmodernism. These constructions will be examined in three episodes, beginning in the 1990s with an international workshop convened by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to study cold climate architecture, moving to research endeavors by academic, private sector, and United Nations actors in the 1970s in tropical sites, and finally, studying delays, perversions, and other descendant practices and discourses in twenty-first- century camps for “climate refugees”. Drawing evidence from archival and oral history research in Geneva, Nairobi, Oxford, and along the border of Somalia, this paper traces events, genealogies and a wide network of figures through hard and soft architectural exchange. It examines the configuration of a space around the empirical and conceptual problem of tropical climate as translated through the European problem of humanitarian intervention.


Tectonics of Paranoia: The Matshed System Within the First Fabrication of Hong Kong

Christopher Cowell, GSAPP, Columbia University, USA

The matshed was the earliest building system used in the construction of colonial Hong Kong from 1841. Seeming to arise from indigenous southern Chinese construction, this bamboo-framed, palm-leaf-roofed, and woven-cane-walled entity had started life as an endlessly adaptable construction kit suited to the pragmatic needs of both the Anglo-Indian military and Anglo-Chinese commerce. Rapidly deployable, it transformed into almost every building typology conceivable: from the storage of troops (the barracks), to the storage of cotton (the godown); and from the place of mammon (the market bazaar), to the place of worship (the colonial ‘mat church’). However, following the ‘Hongkong Fever’ of 1843, more solidly constructed buildings were demanded as being both safer and more morally respectable. The matshed, therefore, began to acquire a dubious character. It turned into an object of paranoia: as if a progenitor of disease, criminality and conflagration. Subsequently, the matshed became an anachronism, the dated component of a founding mythology. The physical state that urban Hong Kong had been a mere three years before was now viewed through the collective memory lens of European residents with some incredulity. And yet, the matshed stubbornly endured.

This paper will trace the environmental politics of this early set of transformations and how they fed into a founding narrative used by a split community unsure of the island’s permanent viability as a British possession. Sitting chronologically between two significant architectural theoretical models of neoclassical rationalism and tectonic romanticism: respectively Marc-Antoine Laugier’s primitive hut (Essai sur l’Architecture, 1753) and Gottfried Semper’s Caribbean hut (Der Stil, 1860-63), the subtropical Hong Kong matshed was a significant device of European colonial encounter that both absorbed and contributed to the shift between these models, from origin myth to degenerate present.


‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 17

Tim Livsey, ‘Fry and Drew at Ibadan: rethinking the “colonial modern”‘

This paper considers Fry and Drew’s buildings for University College Ibadan (UCI), Nigeria. These buildings have often recently been interpreted as part of a post-war ‘colonial modern’ moment, which saw a pact between rationalist urban planning and authoritarian colonial power. Colonial modern planning, including Fry and Drew’s work at Ibadan, has been interpreted as excluding indigenous voices from planning and upholding colonial power.

The paper uses the history of the UCI buildings to qualify colonial modern interpretations. It shows how Nigerian agendas influenced the planning of the buildings through a long pre-history of Nigerian thinking on higher education, and the acquisition of the site, which involved negotiations between the colonial state and local chiefs. Fractures within the colonial establishment are considered, including those between architects and client, suggesting that there was not an integrated colonial modern machine. The unexpected variety in the buildings’ reception and use is also considered, to explore the ways the buildings were interpreted by Nigerians.

However, the paper also endorses aspects of the colonial modern view, showing how Fry and Drew’s apparently apolitical ‘modern’ spaces were closely imbricated with colonial-era urbanism and constructions of whiteness. As such the buildings represented an ambivalent legacy to a decolonizing country.


Tim Livsey is an AHRC funded PhD student at Birkbeck College, University of London. He is currently completing a thesis on ‘The University Age: Development and Decolonisation in Nigeria, 1930 to 1966’, which makes special reference to built environments, including Fry and Drew’s work at the University of Ibadan.

‘The Influence of Fry and Drew’ Conference, Abstract 14

’Yemi Salami, ‘Fry and Drew’s Influence on Colonial Public Works Architecture in Nigeria’

This study examines the influence of Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew on the architecture of Nigeria’s Colonial Public Works Department (PWD).  Mostly referred to as Fry and Drew, literature provides accounts of their coming to work in West Africa as architects and professional advisors during the mid-twentieth century. They are also deemed to have pioneered alongside other private architects of the time, the climate responsive design that has come to be known as ‘tropical architecture’.

The literature equally provides a glimpse into operations by the Public works Department (PWD). The department had largely produced the country’s earlier colonial buildings, as well as a good number of its mid-twentieth century buildings. The period therefore experienced a blend of designs by the new private architects and by the PWD. But did the designs of the new entrant private architects generate an impact on colonial building? How did the PWD build before this time? Did it have a design tradition by which it operated? Was this tradition affected by the new influences, particularly from Fry and Drew?

To answer these questions, the study will examine two Fry and Drew buildings and their application of tropical design principles. It will then explore two building types done by the PWD – a courthouse and a post office. For each building type, the study will examine its design in the earlier colonial years, as well as during the tropical architecture trend.  Changes arising in the new design will then be identified and discussed, particularly those most likely based on fry and drew influences. The purpose therefore, is not only to establish if Fry and Drew influenced PWD designs, but to also know what features they had influenced.


Yemi Salami is a PhD student at the Liverpool School of Architecture, University of Liverpool. Her research investigates British colonial architecture in Nigeria between 1900 and 1960. Specifically, the research aims to understand the colonial administration’s Public Works Department (PWD), and the architecture which it produced within the period of study. Yemi held a faculty position at Olabisi Onabanjo University Ago-Iwoye, Nigeria, before enrolling for her PhD in November 2011.