Last month was a momentous time for Design233, as October marked our tenth anniversary of covering Africans in architecture, design, literature, and more. To celebrate the milestone, we invited a series of different African creatives to take over our social media channels while also hosting interviews and live discussions with industry professionals. Here, we highlight the various activities that took place throughout the month.
Rwandan architect and illustrator Isaro Lise Katangulia, who is also the founder of African Female Architects, kicked things off with an Instagram takeover that prioritized highlighting a bevy of African women in architecture, their projects, and discussing how women currently interested or actively pursuing a career in architecture can better form community.
“The women that I selected to feature as part of my takeover are almost like my big sisters or my mothers,” said Katangulia in an interview following her week of coverage. “They are role models and I see so much grace when I look at them. The work they have respectively done, taking leadership in their firms, doing amazing projects; these are the women I want to learn more about because they have experienced so much in the field and in life.”
Among those profiled by Katangulia were South African architects Linda Mvusi, Katherine Maree Otten, and Sarah Calburn; Tunisian architects Catherine Uguen Fleury and Chacha Atallah; Nigerien architect Mariam Kamara, Ugandan architect Doreen Adengo, and Tanzanian architect Dr. Victoria Marwa. Their projects range from affordable housing commercial developments, retail, and more, along with teaching and educating.
“[The] African Female Architects initiative is mostly a call for individual and shared advocacy, to create an architecture profession that serves everyone,” Katangulia explains. “With support, increasing prominence, and a greater sense of belonging, women as much as anyone else can transform the profession now and will continue to do so for future generations.”
Ghanaian architect Ruth-Anne Richardson followed up Katangulia’s IG takeover with a series of posts that honed in on Accra, which is her hometown. Richardson, who practices in Accra and owns StudioRED, navigated the city’s architectural and geopolitical histories, the significance of its urban spaces, and how urban experiences and interactions with various places and people have influenced the direction of her own practice. Some of the sites Richardson explored were Ghana’s Black Star Gate, the Philip Dadzie-designed Archetype offices in Accra’s North Kaneshie, Jamestown and its various cultural sites, and the newly debuted African Futures Institute, among others.
“Highlighting my city is always very important for me, in demonstrating our capacity to bring about change in our cities,” Richardson writes. “As an educator whom I have great respect for once said, Africa needs the transformational over transactional— if we are to design and lead urban change globally.”
The third series of takeovers came courtesy of Kholisile Dhliwayo, architect and creator of African artist collective afrOURban. Dhliwayo— who was born in Zimbabwe and has lived in Ethiopia, Zambia, Australia, and New York— examined African architectural designs and typographies around New York City.
“I remember moving to New York and being fascinated by the storefront church typology,” says Dhliwayo. “What interests me most is the ways these community initiated institutions paved the way for other community hubs and the presence of Black agency on main streets.”
Dhliwayo notes the correlation between the Black diaspora in NYC and the African continent while also exploring African urbanism in the contexts of structures like storefront churches, brownstones, and various art installations and murals.
On November 12, we closed out our tenth anniversary celebrations with a live interview with Nigerian architect Tosin Oshinowo. Oshinowo offered insight about overcoming obstacles as an architect in Nigeria, the evolution of her architectural and design styles, and the need for an architectural style that is unique to Africa with less influence from western archetypes.
“Within ourselves as designers, I think we need to become more conscious and respectable to the environment, pay more attention to materiality, and think very consciously of identity,” Oshinowo explains.
“One thing our continent has lacked in our physical infrastructure is a consciousness of our identity. We have some much external influence, both good and bad, that has involved quite a lot of stripping away of physical representation of who we are and in our building spaces. I think the generation of designers that we have now need to think about that. We cannot recreate what does not exist, but if we have more of a consciousness in our design as architects, we can at least create something that generations to come will have as a reference point of who we are.”
Design233 is proud to commemorate ten years of highlighting African architects, designers, and creatives from within the continent and across the diaspora. Recognizing the accomplishments and contributions of these creatives is instrumental toward fostering a greater appreciation for the innovation, uniqueness, and originality that Africans in architecture and design bring to the table. We encourage you to catch up on the action over on our Instagram page and to follow for more exciting coverage in the near future.