ICON’s “Africa” issue

I have been looking forward to reading this issue and below are a few excerpts from the pieces I found most enlightening.

Aravena, Meindertsma, Hustwit & Nussbaum a Conversation

This conversation took place during Design Indaba, Cape Town in 26 February 2010, following a presentation by Martha Stewart on her global, commercial scale brand. This served as a starting point for the participants to discuss issues of commercialization/scaling design/architecture to meet the needs of the unserved global population, design as a social or political intervention, and design thinking. Martha’s presentation and success led Aravena to wonder “Take social housing, in my case. I would really like it to be millions of units and not just an interesting exception. And Martha Stewart has found a way to be mainstream. The dilemma – the price she’s paid – is that she’s reduced the complexity. The question is how to be massive without simplifying.” Later when examining new embrace (by business, politicians, the public) of design and design thinking, Meindertsma suggests“So design thinking is the new humanism?

Mud Mosque

This article examines the work the Aga Khan Trust for Culture is doing to repair the Great Mosque at Djenné, in Mali. It notes that a key reason for the dilapidated condition is the annual ritual of repair which the surrounding community engages in. Essentially, the problem is that the community over repaired the mosque. We read, “Year upon year, the citizens have been putting back slightly more mud than was eroded by the rain. Almost imperceptibly, the building was morphing, like a child being overfed by a doting mother. Eventually, it was groaning under the weight of its multiple skins. The bones were buckling. It needed liposuction.

Francis Kere

Diébédo Francis Kéré, was born in a remote village in Burkina Faso , then went on to found a practice in Berlin and win an Aga Khan Award for Architecture for a primary school built using local materials and methods in Gando Village Burkina Faso. What is noteworthy about this and other projects by him is the fact that they seem to suggest a way to bridge the gap between solicited and unsolicited architecture. For ,”buildings in Gando were initiated by Kéré himself. Here he plays every role: community activist, fund raiser, architect and builder. Kéré treats the buildings as a form of social empowerment, using local labour and training people who can neither read nor write to translate his drawings into structures.

More of ICON 84 (here)


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