Given the diverse nature of cities in the African continent, the reading of urbanity in Africa is particularly complex. Although urban formation and development is extremely varied and differentiated from city to city, common challenges which include the provision of services, land ownership, and citizenship feature heavily in today’s African urban landscapes. The architectural fabric at the urban level directly engages regional systems, settlement patterns, and social forms, and practitioners today are challenged with approaching and addressing a multitude of critical issues in their respective context. Eschewing the prototypical and often destructive top-down approach to addressing these challenges, a number of the most prominent efforts in recent years have sought to cultivate new models of development by utilizing processes of social inclusion and participatory planning. This panel seeks to highlight contemporary shifts in the discourse on development and to establish some provocations about the critical pieces of missing infrastructure that could improve the operational and visual coherence/organization/synthesis of urban centers in Africa.


Kunle Adeyemi_1107_S2Kunlé Adeyemi is an architect, designer and urbanist worked closely on numerous projects with Rem Koolhaas at OMA, including a proposal for Lagos’ 4th Mainland Bridge and masterplan. He founded NLÉ, his architecture, design, and urbanism practice in Amsterdam, The Netherlands then Lagos, Nigeria. His work focuses on city development research and urban interventions.  He will present the first phase of his designs for a floating town in Makoko, an area of Lagos. The Makoko Floating School, a building prototype for African water communities, was built with people in the Lagos water communities. The project envisions a means to develop in tropical, coastal African cities that are prone to flooding with ever-more frequency due to rising sea levels. Inspired by the innovative and resourceful living in the informal water community of Makoko in Lagos, NLÉ explores this territory as a contemporary model and a social, cultural and economic catalyst for adapting coastal African cities to the impact of climate change.



DK Osseo-AsareYaw “DK” Osseo-Asare is an architect and designer based in Tema, Ghana. He is a founding principal of Low Design Office (LOWDO), an architecture studio that realizes high design through low cost, low energy technologies and solutions. Osseo-Asare received both an A.B. in Engineering Design and an M.Arch from Harvard University. His building and research explore sustainability by linking form-making, technology and geopolitics with social dimensions of global environment. TEDGlobal Fellow, Fulbright Scholar and co-founder of design think tank DSGN AGNC, he has presented his work at the Royal Institute of British Architects, Harvard Graduate School of Design, PennDesign, Cornell, KNUST, University of Ghana-Legon, Smart Cities Expo and on the BBC. DK previously worked for architecture office MOS and Ghanaian architect-builder Alero Olympio. He blogs about African architecture and making at Afrch. Most recently, he has been involved in the ANAM city project, a new model for sustainable development in Eastern Nigeria.



cmo_fotoChelina Odbert is co-founder and executive director of Kounkuey Design Initiative, a non-profit design practice committed to improving physical, economic, and social quality of life through low-cost, high-impact design interventions. Since 2006, KDI has worked with community members in the slum of Kibera, Nairobi to design and implement a network of “productive public spaces” (PPS) — open spaces that link physical upgrading to micro-enterprise and community development. The PPS network has won numerous awards including the Van Alen institutes’ New York prize for public architecture, and has been recognized by the Rockefeller Foundation and Ashoka Changemakers. Chelina has also worked on sustainable, participatory planning and design projects in India, Brazil, Honduras, Haiti, Morocco, and the United States. She earned her BA, Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa, from Claremont McKenna College and went on to complete her Masters of Urban Planning at Harvard University. She has lectured extensively in the US and internationally on KDI’s innovative approach to sustainable planning and written about it for Forbes Magazine. In 2012, she was named by American Express as one of 15 global emerging social innovators.



Michael HooperMichael Hooper (Moderator)

Michael Hooper is an Assistant Professor of Urban Planning at Harvard University’s Graduate School of Design (GSD). Prior to joining Harvard, he worked for the United Nations Development Programme, including a year spent on secondment to the Kenya Ministry of Planning. He remains affiliated with the United Nations as a member of the Technical Advisory Committee for the UN’s Equator Prize. Hooper’s research interests focus on the politics of land use and urbanization, participatory planning and governance, and urban dimensions of international development. Hooper began university at National Taiwan Normal University in Taipei before earning degrees from McGill University and MIT. He completed his PhD at Stanford University, where he conducted research on forced evictions and resettlement in Tanzania. He has been a visiting research fellow at the University of Oxford and the Nordic Africa Institute in Uppsala, Sweden. Professionally, he is a chartered town planner in the United Kingdom and a certified planner in the United States and Canada. He received the Urban Planning and Design teaching award from GSD students in 2011.