Tag: Ghana


Bamboo Lattice Vault

Bamboo lattice canopy installed as part of the Kiosk Culture exhibition at ANO Ghana cultural and arts center for the launch of Gallery1957 in Accra, Ghana. 

Commissioned by Ghanaian art historian, curator, writer and filmmaker Nana Oforiatta-Ayim (shown above). Assembled over two days to test method for building mid-size roofed space quickly using all-natural materials—bamboo and woven rattan mats—in dialog more broadly with the concept of "kiosk culture".

Method of construction: Bamboo culms split into slats, joined into long linear elements, formed into arches and interwoven—to form a self- supporting structural web that references the language of baskets and weaving—a combination of the techniques earlier tested with students at Ashesi University, who designed and built PVC lattice vault and the bamboo slat dome prototypes, under supervision of DK Osseo-Asare and Augustus Richardson.



Otublohum Transponder

The spirit of today is that we deny the spirits—and in so doing negate not only understanding but also future possibility. Bypassing Jamestown's history and pyscho-geography so rich it should blow minds, many too many passersby pass by everyday unawares—losing touch with the magic of that quantum mechanical African electronics that charges space while they simultaneously lose control—enslaved by mindless technology masterminded by webmasters in faraway lands—seeking solitary solace in social networks that ultimately suppress their spirit and the spirits. So much static that we forget to dream our own dreams. #OtublohumTransponder is a prototype bambot that intermixes dreams. Perhaps through hearing distant unknown voices we may rediscover our latent power to download from the past to imagine the future and recreate our own realities.

Otublohum Transponder is a prototype #bambot (bamboo architecture robot) installed in Otublohum Square, Jamestown as part of the sixth annual Chale Wote Street Arts Festival in Accra, Ghana. The theme of the 2016 edition was 'Spirit Robot', per organizers ACCRA [dot] ALT:

"The CHALE WOTE Street Art Festival is an alternative platform that brings art, music, dance and performance out into the streets. The community-based festival takes place in James Town – Accra’s most historic community – and targets exchanges between scores of Ghana-based and international artists and patrons by creating and appreciating art together. Since 2011, CHALE WOTE has included graffiti murals, photography, theater, spoken word, interactive art installations, live street performances, panels, tours, extreme sports, a film festival, a fashion parade, food and design markets...

In 2016, we ramp up the energy of CHALE WOTE by building a universal TRANSmitter – a singular architecture – that we call SPIRIT ROBOT. This immersive memory-tech presents a world within a world where life can be structured on different terms. CHALE WOTE 2016 exists as an interconnected system of pan-African geometry shifting. SPIRIT ROBOT is a sacred current that decodes worldly systems of racist capitalism, alienation and subjection. SPIRIT ROBOT mutates these frequencies as a way of creating new histories, art and knowledge."

[ With Yasmine Abbas & Nana Abrah-Asiedu ]

Blog entry

Rockefeller Foundation Innovation Challenge Award

Low Design Office has received a Centennial Innovation Challenge Award from the Rockefeller Foundation for the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform, "in support of the design, testing and implementation of a physical and digital platform that would enable young e-waste workers in Ghana to collaboratively create tools to transform e-waste materials and recyclable goods into products that could be sold for higher value." LOWDO Principal DK Osseo-Asare and Dr. Yasmine Abbas, Professeur Associé at l'Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture in Paris and Director of Pan-Urban Intelligence, an urban strategic design consultancy, are co-leads on the project.

Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) is a collaborative project to upgrade the quality of life and environment at Agbogbloshie, the largest e-waste processing site in Ghana and the "worst polluted" place on Earth for 2013, according to Green Cross Switzerland and the Blacksmith Institute.

AMP contends that (domains of) architecture and electronics have converged. At such a moment -- if we can make open, democratic and collective the capability of manipulating materials from the level of chemistry up, by means of digital technology -- we can move beyond the notion of “e-waste”. Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE or 3E), old or new, constitute a vital stream of raw material for the global production chain. In particular, while there is fundamental overlap with the elemental “stuff” of digital space, it is equally important to note that the majority of EEE materials are generally recyclable such as plastics, steel, aluminum, copper, or other specialized or high-value materials.

The project seeks to create an alternate convention that links Agbogbloshie's e-waste, scrap & recycling industry with the technical know-how and social entrepreneurial framework to itself remake the landscape, over time. The approach is to design and build locally a knowledge database and set of tools for e-waste processing and digital fabrication. The intention is to empower informal sector e-waste workers and their peer groups to rehabilitate the environment of Agbogbloshie and to help green the community's current recycling practices. The short-term goal is to design and build a makerspace for the hyper-local context of Agbogbloshie, together with an open-source technology platform to support its operation. The long-term goal is to transform Agbogbloshie's e-waste and scrap industry into a network for more advanced materials processing and small-scale distributed manufacturing.

Participants in AMP work collectively to make & gain exposure to new horizons of digital fabrication, with potential for contributing to youth employment and advancement of Ghana’s maker community. To develop AMP, makers conduct a series of maker workshops (qamp or "camps"), ranging from design research to fieldwork, community outreach and workshops with stakeholders for e-waste dismantling, materials processing and prototyping solutions.

Refer to the project website for more information: http://qamp.net/


Berekuso Hill Station

Berekuso Hill Station is an anticipatory development that seeks to remake landscape as institution. As the city of Accra --like all Africa-- urbanizes its environment, the hill station on a summit opposite Ashesi University in the peri-urban village of Berekuso, is an experiment in ecology: a project to grow a 20-acre park as counterpoint to the unchecked ecological pressure of rapid urbanization in the Greater Accra environ.

As a landscape like the Berekuso context --still natural enough to support bush hunting-- urbanizes, what sort of impact on the emerging community can a dedicated ecological sink have? Building an open-source productive landscape can encourage active lifestyles and active architectures simultaneous with a new social force promoting sustainability.

Berekuso Hill Station promotes sustainable lifestyle and interaction between public and nature in support of biodiversity.

Landscape design was derived from GPS-enabled site analysis in order to optimize water catchment systems, existing vegetation and view corridors. (Process sample at Google Map generated by My Tracks Android app).







Community 18 Residence

2,500 sf design-build residence in Tema, Ghana made out of 40,000 cement-stabilized compressed laterite earth blocks (CSEB), manufactured on-site with an Auram 3000 press. The project elevates a ground courtyard condition to upstairs roof terrace and exploits passive cooling via open tread hardwood staircase stack, operable wood louver shutters in place of glass windows and orientation to winds off the Gulf of Guinea.


In/Formal Kiosk Culture

Africa today has among the highest rates of urbanization on the planet. In the twin cities Accra and Tema, the human settlement closest to the earth's geographic origin 0-0, this urban growth puts pressure on networks of electricity, transportation and ecology.

Tema is a new town built from scratch for 250,000 people. Sixty years later, the population is 2-4X that size, and coupled with Accra reaches several million.

The construction industry in Ghana is part of the informal sector — mobile or semi-legal kiosks and containers that retrofit automobiles and electronics, fabricate furniture, building materials, dresses, hairstyles, food...and which sell mobile phone credits on every street corner — the basic unit of information in Africa.

Official policy is to excise the cancer of the informal from the city. But micro-enterprises not only provide jobs; they are also where – out of necessity – improvisation is automatic. These are sites of innovation.

Meanwhile innovation has stalled in Ghana's building industry over the past forty years - a period during which innovation was forced from the top down; that failed.

This project inverts that model. The informal sector is already innovating: accessible information is the catalyst for accelerating that innovation. This is social design R&D, and it has to be from the bottom-up.

One example is bamboo lifecycling. Grow bamboo on undeveloped land in the city, use it to self-build bigger and higher-performance micro-architecture that approach zero cost, and burn as cooking fuel when the buildings expire. This means money typically spent on construction can be used instead on things like solar panels or shared wifi. Bottom-up means using tactics of the informal... like planting bamboo on land we don't own, and prototyping not in isolation but with people who work in the informal sector.

The paradox is that -economically- cities provide jobs but -ecologically- construction of the city is proportional to destruction of nature. The limiting constraint in many African urban ecologies may now no longer be capital, but rather access to information: How to simultaneously expand economic and ecological densities sustainably.


Double Workstation

Double workstation is part of an investigation into fabrication of high performance products using low-tech in Ghana's informal sector. This desk is designed for paired mobility: a central cable tray holds power cords and divides the table top into two mirrored work surfaces.    Fabrication: 3/4" plywood table top and cable tray with high-gloss white automotive finish screwed to custom-welded steel frame on 5" rubber casters.      The workstation is the only furniture in a room with windows on three sides. These windows have operable wood shutters instead of glazing (to minimize embodied energy and maximize cross-ventilation).     In response, the desk's automotive finish achieves a low-maintenance surface: during the dry season, red airborne dust from the Harmattan can be wiped clean with minimal effort. The pair of fixed casters and pair of casters with 360 degrees of rotation together produce a low constraint of mobility: the entire desk can rotate around either of two corners, allowing the user to re-orient the workstation in response to sun and breeze.     Electrical tether suspended from roof rafters enables electronic devices to dock at the workstation despite its mobility.  
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