Clerkenwell Design Week: Africa 28.07.11

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The venue (image: Peter Guenzel)

We talked about Africa for the second series of icon minds, to coincide with our special issue looking at architecture, design and the urban environment on that continent (icon 084). For the talks, we brought designers and architects working on projects in Africa to London. The Johannesburg-based architect Peter Rich spoke about his interpretation centres in Alexandra and Mapungubwe and his masterplan for Axum in Ethiopia. Patrizia Moroso and design curator Gareth Edwards discussed Moroso's new M'Afrique project, employing craftsmen in Senegal. Finally, we were treated to a poetic presentation on life in Africa's megacities by AbdouMaliq Simone and a presentation of OMA's Lagos project by OMA architect Kunlé Adeyemi.

Peter Rich
"Very often when you work in Africa, it's a process, it's not aa product you're delivering, and the buildings may be the least important part of the process. It's what you leave behind."

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Alexandra Heritage Centre, Johannesburg, South Africa (image: Alexandra: Iwan Baan)

Patrizia Moroso & Gareth Williams
"The reason for M'Afrique wasn't just to launch some new designs, but to show the ability and talent of people working with crafts in Senegal that most Europeans have forgotten how to do."

"What strikes me with this project is the mutual respect from both sides. The respect that you and the designers have shown for the skills and talents of the craftsmen and the respect that they have shown you."

"This is the beauty of design, that you can help people to do something a bit bigger than to create tools for your everyday life. Involving the craftsman in the design process is beautiful for many reasons, first for the beauty of the final product, but also because design can change people's life."

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Ibiscus chairs from the M'Afrique collection

AbdouMaliq Simone & Kunlé Adeye
"The problems of infrastructure in Lagos are also opportunities. Within the chaos there is an inherent organisation, and we tried to recognise these characteristics. Our proposal was to separate them and create a bridge on two levels: one that accommodates the typical Lagosian life, with trading and socialising, and the other for traffic."

"In Africa, ordinary citizens have a major role producing the built environment, particularly those who take over pre-existing buildings and transform them to suit the needs of emerging and underserved communities. These 'projects' emphasise agency and desire and lend voice to multiple, overlapping languages – of politics, aesthetics, irony and hope."

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OMA's proposal fir a bridge across Lagos lagoon

 

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What strikes me with this project is the mutual respect from both sides. The respect that you and the designers have shown for the skills and talents of the craftsmen and the respect that they have shown you

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