Diploma 17 continues its investigation into new conditions of the contemporary city, interrogating forms of infrastructure and formulating new modalities of integration with the architectural project. This year we immersed ourselves in West Africa,
a fascinating region where we discovered the floating communities of Ganvie and Makoko, the endless urban sprawl of Accra, the privatised harbour islands of Lagos, the salt mines and slavery forts on the coast of Ghana, the ancestral Tata territory of Benin, as well as the sunken forests of the Lake Volta. Within this part of the world and these contested territories of rapid urbanisation, we speculated on the possibility of deploying strategies that are challenging the effects of an extreme rural exodus as an urban project that does not fulfil many promises of providing education, healthcare and work for the majority of its population. Taking as a premise the economic viability and extensive growth of productive fields, this year’s brief examined the possibility of coupling existing infrastructure with civic functions. Throughout the year, we constantly debated the benefits and failures of top-down and emergent approaches towards urban organisations and their consequences on issues of governance, ownership and social interaction.
At the urban scale, we experimented with time-based growth patterns as well as combinatory models of organisation that allowed for greater adaptability to changing conditions such as seasonal flooding and programme obsolescence, thus producing economically viable synergies and gradual changes in civic appropriation. At the tectonic scale, we explored geometrical integration of multiple design objectives such as experiential criteria, programme, structure and environmental performance. Through simulation, we explored architectural in terms of its broader environmental impact, such as the design of wind shadows, carving the desert landscape, or manipulating processes of erosion and sedimentation in order to reclaim land and enhance collective experience within and external to architecture. We concluded our investigations with speculative prototypical settlements, nested within productive fields that allowed us to position the architectural project as an integral contribution to a broader socio-political framework.
Theo Sarantoglou Lalis
Tosin Oshinowo- Akinkugbe
Andrew Wai Tat Yau
Barbara Ann-Campbell Lange
George Massoud & Gabriel Massoud
Piet Van Der Merwe
Azu Nwagbogu & Zainab Ashadu
University of Lagos
The children and professor of the Primary School of Koussoukoingou, Benin
Thomas T Jensen
The project questions the current approach towards informal settlements, the land pressure placed on informal communities, as well as the constant population displacement and forced evictions that occur across the region of West Africa, as a result of rapid urban growth and increasing land values.
Through land reclamation, the project proposes a relocation plan for the community of Makoko in Lagos, where the application of microdams and a flexible development strategy would allow for growth, the introduction of infrastructure and public space, as well as improve the conditions these communities are currently faced with.