A. M. Martin & P. M. Bezemer (2019): The concept and planning of public native housing estates in Nairobi/Kenya, 1918–1948, Planning Perspectives, DOI: 10.1080/02665433.2019.1602785

Open Access PDF: https://doi.org/10.1080/02665433.2019.1602785

Estate lay-out Kaloleni, 1943, A.J.S. Hutton. Source: G.W. Ogilvie, The Housing of Africans in the urban areas of Kenya. The Kenya Information Office: Nairobi. 1944

Abstract: Interwar public housing estates for native citizens in Sub-Sahara African cities, represent hybrids of global and local urban concepts, housing typologies and dwelling habits.

The authors explain such hybrids via exploratory research note as a result of transmutation processes, marked by various (non)human actors. To categorize and compare them, Actor Network Theory (ANT) is applied and tested within an architecture historical framework. Nairobi/Kenya functions as pars pro toto with its Kariakor and Kaloleni estates as exemplary cases. Their different network- outcomes underpin the supposition that actor-oriented research can help to unravel a most essential, though neglected part of international town planning history.

Plan and elevation of two one-room dwellings, Kaloleni, 1943, A.J.S. Hutton. Source: G.W. Ogilvie, The Housing of Africans in the urban areas of Kenya. The Kenya Information Office: Nairobi. 1946
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 (sub) URBAN TROPICALITY: Urban challenges in the tropical zone

International Network of Tropical Architecture (iNTA) Conference at The University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia,  5 – 8 December 2019

The cities and urban centres of the (sub) tropics are where the greatest challenges facing our collective future can be found. They are where the challenges of global warming, inequality and the migration of people fleeing political unrest or climate change are at their most extreme. The 2019 International Network of Tropical Architecture (iNTA) conference provides a forum to discuss architectural and design solutions for a resilient, smart and just future for urban centres in the tropics.

Founded in Singapore in 2004, the International Network for Tropical Architecture (iNTA) is a networking platform for international researchers and practitioners to collaborate and learn from each other about problems and solutions pertaining to architecture and urban design in the tropical (and sub-tropical) regions and brought together by the shared climatic imperatives and opportunities of these regions. The iNTA permanent secretariat is located at the Department of Architecture, School of Design and Environment at the National University Singapore.

The 2019 iNTA conference is hosted by the School of Architecture at The University of Queensland, located in Brisbane, capital city of the state of Queensland, Australia. Brisbane is proximate to both the fastest growing urban centres in Asia and many Small Island Developing States (SIDS) most at risk from climate change, including Kiribati, Marshall Islands, Federal States of Micronesia, Marshall Islands, Niue and Tuvalu amongst others. Queensland’s most northern extremity, Cape York, sits at the confluence of the Indian and Pacific Oceans, those very same oceans that generate the weather systems that circle the globe and affect the destiny of millions of people.

For those who live in the so-called “global south,” there is a sense of urgency about the challenges arising from rapidly changing climate conditions. Matters are not merely academic, but dynamic and concrete. Before the launch of iNTA, discourse around architecture and urbanism in the tropics was framed by centres of scholarship in Europe and North America. The malingering aftermath of devastating tropical storms such as Maria and Irma (2017) in the Caribbean and Typhoon Haima (2016) in the Philippines challenges such ascendancy. The 2019 iNTA conference in Brisbane brings discourse to a subtropical city at the crossroads of cultures, regions and climate zones. At a time when Australia’s role in the region continues to be questioned, it provides an opportunity to enhance north-south dialogue. 

Submission Information & Instructions

Submit abstracts of no more than 300 words in length by email as Word documents to:  https://easychair.org/conferences/?conf=inta2019.  Please name the email subject ABSTRACT-SURNAME and use this name for your submission file as well.

  • Abstract deadline: 26 April 2019
  • Submission of full papers for review: 26 July 2019
  • Submission of final papers for publication: 18 October 2019

 All abstracts will be considered by the conference academic committee; authors will be invited to prepare a full paper (no longer than 4,500 words); authors wishing their papers to be published in conference proceedings should submit their final papers for peer review on or before 26 July 2019. The date for submission of final papers is 18 October 2019. Authors may opt out of publication.

Conference Streams 

Tropical Architecture refers to constructed architectural and urban environments relating the climatic and natural conditions of the tropical (and sub- tropical) regions, and interacting with various local specifics of culture, urban fabric and technology. Contributions to the following conference streams are sought. 

1.            Tropical Urbanism  

Stream focussing on challenges to and solutions for enhanced liveability in urban centres of the tropics. Papers might address:

  • projects or propositions for reversing or healing the degradation and collapse of urban centres under rapid growth; 
  • urban infrastructures at risk: rising sea-levels, increasing storm intensity, expanding torridity and aridity.
  • urban adaptation responses : design planning policy, governance and codes
  • urban forms shaped by determinants other than climate alone, such as topography, nature, cultural life. 
  • vegetation in (sub) tropical cities: cultivation in gardens and the peri-urban or neglect in terrain vague

2.             Tropical Architecture :: Contemporary Tropical-isms

Stream focussing on individual designs/ architectural, infrastructure, adaptation projects.  What is it that makes the contemporary architectural project tropical? Or the tropical project contemporary? Papers might illuminate projects that demonstrate instances of : 

  • building technologies: tropical and subtropical applications including 
  • passive low energy and carbon neutral architecture
  • climate mitigation strategies
  • equity in the tropical city
  • the (sub)tropical tower
  • contemporary architecture (still) learning from vernacular traditions
  • reciprocities/dialogue between architecture and tropical environments: between the zeitgeist of a globalized culture and a project’s specific circumstance. 

3.            Narratives of Disease, Discomfort, Development and Disaster ::  Reconsidering Tropical Architecture and Urbanism  

The idea of tropical architecture and urbanism initially developed through a particular connection between discourses on disease, spatial practices and optimum architectural typologies, which were believed to circumvent the spread of tropical diseases and to maintain the comfort of the white settler. After the Second World War, the focus shifted from the European settlement of the colonial tropics to the self-development and governance of the world’s tropical regions; a phenomenon necessitated and propelled by post-war decolonization and global regimes of development aid. Accompanying this change was a shift away from the physiological comfort of the colonial settler to a new focus on indigenous cultures, vernacular building traditions, use of local materials, and increasing appreciation for the psychological value of cultural conventions, including superstition and taboo. The aim of this stream is to examine how “triumph” in the tropics was imagined across multiple geographies, by various subjects, through diverse discourses, and at different times and to critically investigate the roles architecture and urban planning played in this process. We particularly welcome papers that offer historical case studies of tropical and subtropical architecture and urbanism examined through one of four lenses: 

  • disease 
  • discomfort
  • development or disaster.

This stream will be convened by Dr Deborah van der Plaat (The Univerity of Queensland), Dr Vandana Baweja (University of Florida) and Professor Tom Avermaete (ETH Zurich).

4.             Historic Urban Landscapes and Tropicality 

The Historic Urban Landscape is a new approach recommended by UNESCO that recognises and positions the historic city and its core as a resource for the future and the centre for the urban development process. Papers might address:

  • operational principles for urban conservation models: respecting values, traditions and environments of different cultural contexts.
  • historic urban centres and tropical vulnerability 
  • mapping urban heritage values and attributes
  • planning, design and implementation of development projects in historic urban centres
  • adaptive use and re-use impacting authenticity and integrity of physical and social fabric in historic urban centres
  • Small Island Developing States (SIDS) of the Pacific and Caribbean: their vulnerability and resilience

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.

Junior Staff Quarters Plan View
Junior Staff Quarters, near Christianborg Castle, Accra


New Buildings in the Commonwealth edited by Jim M. Richards in 1961 pulled together many articles from earlier editions of the Architectural Review. It formed an important set of essays, photographs and illustrations with each geographically themed chapter written by an architect familiar with that part of the world. Maxwell Fry wrote the West Africa section and he selected some of the best buildings from the proceeding decade to feature in his piece, including some lesser known works from relatively unknown architects.

Junior Staff Quarters, Accra
Junior Staff Quarters, Accra

The opening project for the Ghana section was a housing scheme from Accra designed by the Public Works Department Chief Architect, G. Halstead with architects-in-charge D. A. Barratt and W. J. Clarke. Very little is known about these architects, apart from Halstead worked with S. Bailey (townplanner) on the new layout of Tamale in 1953..[1]

The Accra housing project is a very carefully designed set of 24 apartments arranged across three blocks. Each dwelling faces into the courtyard space and are one room deep to maximise cross ventilation. Each house also has its own private balcony/court for sleeping outside and cooking.

The formal arrangement and sloping roofs are all carefully arranged and the quality of the build is exceptional. I’ve wanted to see these houses for some time now and it was a special moment to see them come into view as I made my way from the 17th Century Danish ‘Christianborg Castle’. The houses were constructed as ‘Junior Staff Quarters’ for people working at the Castle (which was then used as the Prime Minister’s Residence) during the early years of Ghana’s independence.

The houses remain largely unaltered from the original design, albeit lacking some basic maintenance. I spoke to a number of the current residents and they very much enjoy living here. The sense of community is strongly felt, and overlooked internal courtyard adds security. Parts of Community 1 at Tema have a similar feel but don’t quite achieve the ‘walled city in miniature’ qualities of this project.  It marks a significant shift from the compound and ‘village-housing’ projects built elsewhere at the time, and continues to offer many clues for how we might design inexpensive housing in Ghana today.

Junior Staff Quarters, 2019

[1]Tamale Town Planning [1948-54], British Library, EAP541/1/1/333, https://eap.bl.uk/archive-file/EAP541-1-1-333

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.

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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.

 

Conference Report: Colonial and Postcolonial Landscapes: Architecture Cities Infrastructure 16th– 18thJanuary, Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon

Text and Photographs by Ola Uduku, Manchester School of Architecture.

This conference took place at the Gulbenkian institute from Wednesday 16th– Friday 18thJanuary. Its central focus was on having its audience explore research findings and aspects of post-colonial architecture and landscapes specifically from an infrastructure perspective in Africa with a primary focus on the Lusaphone African countries of Mozambique and Angola. Sessions however covered a wide range of topics such as the Chinese involvement in building projects in Africa and how to engage in transnational projects from a postcolonial perspective.

The Gulbenkian Institute, Lisbon

The Gulbenkian Institute, Lisbon

The Gulbenkian Institute was a good setting for the event as Lisbon in winter was best encountered from the urban oasis of the institute in its urban landscape setting. The plenary session on the Wednesday afternoon introduced delegates to the themes of the conference and ended with a lecture given by Helder Pereira, a young Angolan architect who was able to give his perspective on Angolan architectural history and the challenges of architectural practice in contemporary Luanda. He felt particularly exercised with the building industry and landscape in Angola today, but was clear that he was happy to work and contribute his skills to the new Angola in his capacity as a private individual with his own practice.

Helder Pereira at plenary session

Helder Pereira at plenary session

On the first full conference day the opening keynote session was given by Johan Lagae,  (University of Ghent)  who emphasised the need to join up and contextualise the research being done into the PWD archives of Angola, Mozambique and a few other former Portuguese possessions or territories. He focused on the non-completed railway network that would have connected Luanda with Lorenco Marques (now Maputo) and the evolution and execution – successfully or otherwise of other communication projects, and the need to collaboratively examine the histories. A honorary award was also given to the architect Fernao Simoes de Carvalho who had been instrumental to designing a number of buildings and plans in Maputo and across Mozambique.

The parallel sessions which followed covered a number of themes. The author contributed to the session titled “The Transnational Live Project: Critical Reflections on the ethics, politics and pedagogies of collaboration between the global North and the global South”, with Baerbel Muller, (University of Vienna)  the Architects Sans Frontiers representative for Portugal, and one other contributor.

The panel was chaired by John Bennett and Peter Russell, and we concluded that it was possible but difficult to challenge the stereotypical student and institutional engagement and view of the Live project, and that this was an area which needed further exploration but that a radical change to the site project was required. The titles of other parallel sessions in the 1400 – 1600 time slot on day 1 included; Colonial Spatiality in African Sahara Regions, chaired by Samia Henni, and DeConstructing the Right to the City: focusing on Portuguese speaking countries.

In the second parallel session, themes included, Interrupted Utopia: Landscapes of Modern Collective Housing in former European (Socialist) Countries, Spaces in America Current efforts towards a non-Eurocentric theory, projecting Power and further sessions on Planned Violence and Deconstructing the Right to the City. The collective Housing session involved papers describing housing in Yugoslavia and how some of the precast design systems were adapted and designed for socialist countries including Angola due to the cold war connection with the post-colonial political party UNITA, the ensuing independence war meant that only two of these projects were built although countries such as Cuba had more connections to these systems.

We then were taken that to view the colonial archives and an exhibition of the infrastructure in the Belem district of the city, titled “Colonizing Africa”, were we had a drinks reception. Amongst the exhibited PWD photographs of bridges and public housing projects were also busts of Portugal’s unreconstructed neo colonial past.

Paul Jenkins Presentation

The second full day of the conference began with a plenary session, where Paul Jenkins, (Wits University) gave an illuminating lecture on hard and soft infrastructure development focusing in Mozambique. He was able to trace the development of hard infrastructure projects from power supply to railway lines and then focused on road networks. He posited that the hard physical infrastructure need a soft (maintenance, services and planning) infrastructure approach to be successful. By taking a contemporary viewpoint he was able to demonstrate that new development partners, in this case the Chinese, and post revolutionary governments are yet to address the problem of having soft infrastructure packages in pace, to the detriment of current infrastructure being built in postcolonial cities like Maputo, with the Matende bridge and new ring road being case studies to support this theory. Paul pointed out that these projects as in the colonial times benefit investors and middle classes and rarely the masses who often have to ‘pay’ for development.

Tribute Lecture and award made to architect Jose Forjaz

Tribute Lecture and award made to architect Jose Forjaz

The session ended with further summaries of research projects being carried out using the newly catalogued archive sources, and then an honorary citation and award was given to the architect Jose Forjaz for the work he had done for Mozambique from the early revolutionary period to the present day.

The final parallel sessions in the afternoon focused again on a range of themes, including Single and collective housing in a modern laboratory in colonial territories, Infrastructural development in European Portuguese territories in the late colonial period, peripheral infrastructure in late colonial cities, and materiality and mobility in colonial landscapes. I attended the China in African, Latin American and Caribbean territories: examining spatial transformations around diplomacy and economic aid panel. Two papers gave illuminating accounts of the history of Chinese building aid in Africa from the 1960s to the present day. They both concluded that this involvement has now been historic, and despite having its tensions they are set to continue as China’s political relations and economic influence on the continent continues.

The last parallel session had a second panel on materiality and mobility, urban legacies, globalised regionalism, population spatialisation and control, and the panel I attended titled Beyond Colonialism: Afro-Modernist Agents and Tectonics as an expression Cultural Independence. The panel was set up to have younger conference delegates discuss their encounters with post-modern architectural images and landscapes in Europe (Belgium) and in Africa (Mozambique) and how todays tensions of identity and race are encountered by the public. The panel paper givers consensus was that this was still a problem in many European cities, whilst in Africa, the post-colonial city has not changed or adequately dealt with post colonial monuments of the past. Unfortunately there was no time to have the proposed debate about this.

The final panel session was in Portuguese and was unfortunately not translated so only a few of the conference delegates were able to participate in the session. We were told by those who were Portuguese-speaking, that some divisive views were aired relating to whether colonialization in Lusaphone Africa was a success. We did have a successful dinner to conclude the conference.

The conference was very focused, as was to be expected on issues related to Lusaphone Africa, but it did attract a wide range of delegates from as far afield as Brazil, China and Serbia. Its pre-occupation with discussing the material now available from its African colonial archives was welcome although most delegates, as international contributors to panel discussions encouraged the organisers to engage more with universities and researchers in Lusaphone Africa to “make sense” of the archival material now available and also to set up collaborative research projects in the same vein.

The exhibition Lisbon-Baghdad, co-curated by Ricardo Agarez, a conference delegate was also on show at the Gulbenkian Art Gallery during the conference. This showed the Gulbenkian links with modernist architecture and planning in Iraq from the late 1950s to 1960s.

 

 

Conference Report: A World History of Architecture

The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL

November 2-4, 2018

Eliana Abu-Hamdi Murchie: emurchie@mit.edu

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A World History of Architecture, a small but mighty conference organized by Murray Fraser took place at The Bartlett School of Architecture, UCL, November 2-4, 2018. Over two days, and only eight sessions, Fraser was able to curate a cumulative and rigorous series of presentations that tousled with all facets of teaching global architectural history to the undergraduate and graduate audience. The conference focused on the term “global” in two ways. The first was as a geographic lens, a method that leaned towards the increased inclusion of previously ill-studied parts of the world into the architectural survey. The second was an intellectual engagement with the instruction of global architectural history, and an analysis of its growing interdisciplinarity with neighboring fields of study. The aim of these methods of engagement was explicitly to study and inform on the future direction of global architectural history in universities.

The morning session on day one, The Expanded Field, had Mark Jarzombek tangling with the concept of tradition, a theme that can be in one sense totalizing of all that is non-modern, but in another, a useful/clever label used to project value and meaning onto art and architectural objects. The presentation intended to make clear a much needed separation between the term traditional – so often a synonym for the vernacular – and the meaning of global history.

 Subsequent sessions were based on the themes of:

Global Domesticity

Colonialism, Post-Colonialism and Beyond

Architectural History and Design Research

Informalities, Identities and Subjectivities

Culture and Architectural History

Architectural History as Pedagogy

 

Evening sessions focused on a discussion of the architectural object on the first day, and closed with an ambitious debate of the future of architectural education on the second. Throughout, the group of global scholars shared the pedagogical challenges of teaching in architectural history in their home institutions, in hope that together, they could begin to envision a way for the discipline to transcend beyond its seemingly fixed limits. David Leatherbarrow, in his presentation on Architectural History as Pedagogy transformed architectural survey into a study of architectural details, with intense focus on the various elements that compose the architectural object, rather than a rote evaluation of the whole. In this way architectural education takes pause, ensures that the students absorb and evaluate, not just commit the basic facts of architectural history to memory. Students thus are able to engage emotionally with their object of study, connect with the built environment around them, and, most importantly, hone their critical analysis skills.