Building Industries in African Water Cities

This studio will explore the city of Durban to examine the challenges and opportunities presented by the impacts of urbanization in the social, physical and environmental context of the African continent. The aim is to build industries–to produce a series of new architectural, infrastructural and urban solutions learning from the local environment with a responsible infusion of relevant global values. Through documentation of international and regional practices, the studio will focus on Durban to investigate the city and its edge conditions, to understand its transformations and adaptations and socio political and economic dynamics.

The studio will develop models of small to medium scale infrastructure interventions, scalable through locally managed industrial processes and technologies. In an increasingly globalized world, and particularly in the African context, a pedagogical aim of the studio is to also critically analyze the role of architecture, the architect, and forms of practice that offer sustainable values that shape and stimulate development in African cities and communities.

Starting with urban research, the studio will analyze Durban, South Africa based on seven registers: Demographics, Economy, Socio-politics, Infrastructure, Morphology, Environment and Resources (DESIMER). The studio will draw from NLÉ’s African Water Cities Project (AWC), which explores the impacts of urbanization and climate change in African cities and communities, deducing the fastest growing African cities are also some of the most vulnerable to climate change. Durban, a rapidly urbanizing coastal city, falls within the high to the extreme high-risk zones.

The studio team will visit Durban in the early phase of the research. Throughout the research and design phases, we will engage advisors in various disciplines to guide the DESIMER research and also establish relationships with local organisations, student groups, institutions and partners in South Africa.

The outcomes of the studio will be presented at the New Solutions of the World Economic Forum on Africa taking place in Durban in May 2017. The goal is to escalate the research and design outcomes into real possibilities of prototyping and industrialization.

This course has an irregular meeting schedule.

Kunle Adeyemi will be in residence on January 19 and 20, March 9, 10, 22, and 23, April 5, 6, 20, and 21, and May 1, 2, and 3. The studio trip will take place February 7–13 (TBC).