“Architecture is the constant fight between man and nature, the fight to overwhelm nature, to possess it. The first act of architecture is to put a stone on the ground. That act transforms a condition of nature into a condition of culture; it’s a holy act.” – Mario Botta
I am fascinated with architecture and architects. It is quite an amazing skill to brilliantly plan and design space to conform with functional, technical, social, environmental and aesthetic considerations. Trend-setting architects like the British-Ghanaian, David Adjaye, who also happens to be the winner of the Iconic 2016 Architect of the Year award, are no longer thinking about buildings as just physical structures but emotive ones that reflect their surroundings and speak to a person’s psyche, their democratic ideals and their beliefs. That is profound! I am especially intrigued by architectural concepts that integrate nature seamlessly into its design. This may be the future trend of African architecture which ironically is the way traditional homes across the continent were built.
“Context is so important. Not to mimic but to become part of the place. I wanted a building that acknowledges its surroundings.” David Adjaye.
There was a time when houses were houses were built to align with our environments (be it desert, forest or tropical Savannah) and with consideration to local materials, local skills and available technology. These homes would also reflect the social, economic and cultural values of various ethnic groups. This has changed. Colonization and modernization has altered our philosophy on architecture and resulted in a mixed bag of homes that may have great form but are weak in terms of function. In Ghana for instance, it rare to find homes built with insulated ceilings which is unfortunate given our proximity to the equator. Thatched roofs, embraced by South Africans, are naturally cooling but this has no aesthetic appeal in many parts of Africa where the thatched roof is unfortunately associated with the rural areas and hence, poverty.
“What’s amazing is that, unlike working in Europe or America at the moment, [as an architect] in Africa you can try to ascribe a new paradigm. If you get the right political agency and the right construction environment, you can make extraordinary moments in architecture. That for me is very exciting.” David Adjaye.
David Adjaye is correct in saying that we need a new architectural paradigm that speaks to our context and culture. David is intrigued by African cities. I am intrigued by the what lies right outside the city. Without much knowledge on migration trends, I would venture a guess that more city dwellers will eventually move further away from the congested urban spaces in search for better quality of life. Since starting construction of my own home in the mountainous region right outside of Accra, I have become more and more in love with the idea of an eco-friendly lifestyle that blends in the indoors with the outdoors. I came across the perfect home, the dream home, that speaks to everything I love including its simplicity and its use of natural materials. Incidentally, this house is located in Mexico! Check it out.
Peace and Love.