21st Century Architecture of Africa and the Diaspora

In the last 500 years, Europe and the West saw dramatic shifts in the nature and shape of their civilisations, from the Renaissance to the Enlightenment, empire to industrialisation. Africa too experienced its own radical changes in population, cultural patrimony, and the scope of its encounters with the rest of the world. Africa’s internal and external relations were in many ways defined by power struggles and exploitation, most notably in the form of the slave trade. Consequently, the continent experienced major shifts and evolutions of identities, the culmination of which was the period between the Berlin Conference of 1884 and the achievement of independence in the 20th century. In the wake of these events, Africa has had to face even more extraordinary changes under complex circumstances. African nations and their diasporas have, from the second half of the 20th century to today, had to explore fundamental questions of sovereignty, identity, and culture as they emerge as distinct entities in the international community.

The aim of this studio is to investigate and examine latent qualities of African geographies and urban and social histories in the latter part of the 20th century and today. The studio will explore ways of charting possible narratives about urban identities within newly formed African contexts. This represents a break from the existing paradigm of importing foreign frameworks. Students will also seek to identify potential new identities in contemporary Africa and its diaspora, given modern complexities such as population explosion, energy concerns, political and socioeconomic security, and considerations for the natural environment.

The study of Africa and its diaspora communities has much to offer in the way of understanding the core issues and conditions of urbanism. Examination of the skeletal forms of many of the continent’s cities, as well as the histories and patterns involved in the formation of its communities, is key to understanding Africa’s civic, commercial, residential, and planning qualities across its diverse geographies and climate.

Our first look will be at southern Africa, where we will critically examine the case of Johannesburg, South Africa. As an ethno-linguistic and cultural melting pot, and one of the last countries in Africa to gain full independence with the end of Apartheid in 1994, South Africa provides an ideal testbed and rich opportunity for defining what architectural identity can be in the 21st century.

Okwui Enwezor, Director of Munich’s Haus der Kunst and the 2015 Venice Biennale, will be involved in this studio.

While David\’s official studio schedule is Thursdays and Fridays, he will frequently be meeting with students outside of this schedule. Students should select this studio, and other courses, with this irregular schedule in mind. David will be available before studio for individual meetings, and will also have skype sessions to augment the schedule listed below:
August 29th 2-6pm
September 18th & September 19th 2-6pm
September 30th & October 1st 2-6pm
Tentative Studio trip dates October 7th-12th
October 20th & October 21st 2-6pm
October 30th & 31st 2-6pm
November 13th & 14th 2-6pm