What’s in a Theme? – Tamsie Thomson

The London Festival of Architecture is now – by some margin – the world’s largest annual architecture festival – taking place each year throughout the month of June. This year we held over 530 separate events: including talks, architectural installations, exhibitions, film screenings, tours, Open Studios, debates, architectural bake offs and much, much more. All this helped the festival engage an audience of well over 600,000 people.

Our theme for this year’s festival was ‘identity’. The theme was picked up by many event organisers and allowed us to explore a range of cultural and political issues that relate both to our city and to architecture more broadly.

In this week’s podcast we announce the theme for the 2019 London Festival of Architecture.  We’re also joined by Tamsie Thomson, Director of the LFA, who talks us through plans for next year’s festival.  Continue reading “What’s in a Theme? – Tamsie Thomson”

Active Social Architecture – Kigali

On the programme this week we speak to Francesco Stassi and Alice Tasca, principals of Active Social Architecture in Kigali.

Francesco Stassi

This week’s programme was recorded in Rwanda as part of a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

Alice Tasca

Active Social Architecture – or ASA studio was founded in 2012 by Nerea Amòros Elorduy and Tomà Berlanda following their extensive work on projects for PLAN INTERNATIONAL and UNICEF, but when the two moved on the firm was taken on by Francesco and Alice along with Zeno Riondato. Together they now lead the firm’s work on a range of projects from healthcare to schools and education facilities.

Alongside the practice Alice continues to teach at the Department of Architecture at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology, now part of the University of Rwanda. The University of Rwanda is still the only architecture school in the country.

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University of Nairobi – Nairobi

On the programme this week we speak to Professor Tom Anyamba, Dean of the University of Nairobi’s School of the Built and Environment.

This week’s episode was recorded in Nairobi as part of a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

The University of Nairobi started life as the Royal Technical College in 1956 – before Kenyan Independence (in 1963) issuing degrees backed by the University of London.

Tom originally studied architecture at the University of Nairobi before working for Richard Hughes and Partners in Nairobi. He subsequently left Nairobi to take his Masters Degree at the Helsinki University of Technology – now Alvar Aalto University – then going on to complete his PhD in Olso.

He now leads the University of Nairobi’s school of Architecture, the oldest of just four universities teaching architecture in Kenya, where he’s taught for over 30 years. Continue reading “University of Nairobi – Nairobi”

Raas Architects – Addis Ababa

On the programme this week is Rahel Shawl, Founder and Director of Raas Architects, one of the leading architecture practices in Addis Ababa in Ethiopia.

Rahel originally studied architecture at the Southern Campus of Addis Ababa University.

Soon after graduating, Rahel established ABBA architects in partnership with a friend before going on to form Raas Architects some 14 years ago

She’s gone on to win numerous awards including the Aga Khan Award for Architecture in 2007 and was shortlisted this year for the Royal Academy’s inaugural Dorfman Award.

Her practice has developed a track record of impressive work on embassies and cultural institutes in Ethiopia – including designing the British Council’s office in Addis, along with the Council’s in house design team.

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Orkid Studio – Nairobi

On the programme this week we speak to James Mitchell and Carolina Larrazabal  from Orkid Studio in Nairobi.

This week’s episode was recorded in Nairobi as part of a series of programmes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s LFA.

James Mitchel

Orkid Studio was founded in 2008 by James Mitchel and Julissa Kiyenje in Cardiff where the pair studied. James was just 19 at the time.  Their aim was to establish a practice interested in providing architectural services to a wider section of society.

 

Carolina Larrazabal

Much of their early work was conducted during holidays and time away from study and teaching – where James taught at the Mackintosh School of Architecture.  The practice made the decision relocated the practice from Glasgow to Nairobi in 2016 .  The practice has gone on to win much praise from across the profession.

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MASS Design Group – Kigali

In this week’s episode we speak to Theophile Uwayezu, architect and associate at MASS Design Group in Kigali, Rwanda.

This week’s episode was recorded in Kigali as part of a series of episodes we’re bring you from East Africa, exploring identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s LFA.

MASS Design Group was established in Massachusetts in 2008 as a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organisation.

Theophile Uwayezu

In the words of the practices “Architecture is never neutral. It either heals or hurts.”  MASS say that their “mission is to research, build, and advocate for architecture that promotes justice and human dignity.”

MASS Design Group began in 2008 as an idea for a different way of practice by a group of students at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

The practice’s first project in Rwanda was to design and build the Butaro District Hospital in partnership with the Rwandan Ministry of Health and the NGO Partners In Health.

The practice went on to open an office in Kigali where it’s now one of the largest firms in the country.

Theophile studied architecture at the University of Rwanda – the country’s only architecture school – where some of MASS Design Group’s partners still teach.

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Nairobi Design Week – Nairobi

For this week’s episode we talking to Adrian Jankowiak and Julita Bhagat, Co-Directors of Nairobi Design Week – an organisation with a mission close to our own hearts, promoting design – in all its disciplines – to a wide public audience.

This episode was recorded in Nairobi, the first in a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

Originally from Poland, Adrian studied Industrial Design at Loughborough University before going on to work for as an industrian designer for various multinationals. He worked in many developing countries  before going to Kenya.

Kenyan national Julita meanwhile is currently studying Human Centred Design at the Nairobi Design Institute.

Continue reading “Nairobi Design Week – Nairobi”

Association of Ethiopian Architects – Addis Ababa

On the programme this week we speak to Meskerem Tamiru, President of the Association of Ethiopian Architects.

This episode was recorded in Addis Ababa as part of a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

Meskerem studied architecture and town planning at the Addis Ababa University School of architecture where she graduated as an architect in 1993.  After graduation Meskerem initially worked as an architect on the expansion of the country’s University sector. In 2008 she established her own practice, Meskerem Tamiru Consulting Architects which now specialises in project management.

The Association of Ethiopian Architects was founded in 1991 and now has close to 2000 members.

Meskerem was elected in August 2017 at the organisation’s General Assembly to serve a three-year term. The association has a small staff based in Addis Ababa.

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Cave Bureau – Nairobi

On the programme this week we speak to the architects Kabage Karanje and Stella Mutegi, two of the three founding directors of Cave Bureau in Nairobi.

This episode was recorded in Nairobi as part of a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

Kabage Karanje (right) Stella Mutegi (centre) and Owen Wainhouse (left)

Kabage was born in Nairobi and later studied in the UK in Loughborough, in Brighton then at the University of Westminster.  He subsequently spent six years working for 3D Reid in London before returning to Nairobi where he worked for a number of practices before going on co-founding Cave.

Stella studied architecture at the University of Newcastle, near Sydney in Australia before returning to Kenya where she worked for a number of practices before ending up working in the same firm at Kagabe – some years later they were both made redundant which spurred their founding of Cave.

The practice they founded, with long-time friend Balmoi Abe in 2014 and draws much of its reference from the cave – mankind’s earliest architectural environment.   Much of their work too references region’s status as the cradle of humanity.

The city, they say, like the caves are dynamic and complex, both having changed over time, albeit with varying geological time times.

The name Cave Bureau – harks back to man’s fundamental need for shelter, which perhaps explains much of the firms work in places like Kibera, Nairobi’s largest informal settlement – or slum – where they’re currently working on a

Cave Burea’s beautiful office/art gallery, which they call The Cave, is in the Kilimani neighbourhood, just west of downtown.

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Triad Architects – Nairobi

On the programme this week we speak to the architects James Gitoho and Charles Ndungu, directors at the Kenyan architecture firm Triad Architects.

This episode was recorded in Nairobi as part of a series of episodes we’re bringing you from East Africa to explore identity and architecture. Identity is the theme of this year’s London Festival of Architecture.

Triad Architects was founded by New Zealander Amyas Connell with Scotsman Graham McCullough in 1963.

Amyas Connell travelled to England in 1924 and later studied at the British School at Rome. He subsequently established one of the most influential but short-lived modernist British architecture practices of the 20th Century, Connell, Ward & Lucas.

James (left) and Charles (right) with photo of Amyas Connell on the wall.

After the war, in 1946 Connell moved to Tanganyika, now Tanzania, and later to Nairobi.  Connell was invited to design the iconic Kenyan Parliament building in 1963; and won the RIBA Bronze Medallist in 1964 for the Aga Kahn Hospital.

The practice now has a wide portfolio of work across Uganda, Tanzania and Rwanda.

James trained at Nairobi University and joined Triad in 1981, going on to become a Director 1988. Whilst Charles joined in 1995 after also studying at Nairobi University, going on to become a director in 2003.

The practice has worked with many foreign firms including with John McAslan + Partners on the Kericho Cathedral and Squire & Partners on the British Council’s Nairobi offices.

Following the retirement of the last non-native Director, Tim Vaulkhard 2013, the practice is now run entirely by Kenyan directors.

Continue reading “Triad Architects – Nairobi”