Accepted Paper:

Rapid Transformation: Education of the Architect  


Donna Cohen (University of Florida)

Paper short abstract:

Urban growth, climatic and cultural shifts, and transfers of knowledge and technology have repositioned African agents of development around improvement in standards of living and structures of opportunity. Integral to these trends is a continent-wide effort to transform Architectural Education.

Paper long abstract:

Architecture schools and practicing architects are acutely aware of their role in educating students along with citizens, government officials, donors, and investors about the importance of the built environment in relation to development ideals. These efforts increasingly draw attention to the merits and possibilities of popular and vernacular architectures, community participation, and the

mobilization of indigenous materials, construction techniques and design-solutions to enhance and enable development outcomes. These are not inward-looking, strictly nationalist or nativist agendas, rather, they are bound-up with highly cosmopolitan networks of personnel, plans, funds, and fabrication techniques.

Architecture schools and practitioners are likewise engaged in a pan-African conversation to create methods and curricula appropriate to future needs and common challenges of artistic and aesthetic aspiration in a world where power and resources remain unevenly distributed. Though decidedly forward-looking, today's architectural engagements in Africa unfold against the backdrop of an earlier history of architecture-based development interventions, and the longer legacy of architecture as a field of practice by and for elites. Taking stock of this common heritage of European colonial and post-colonial influence and more recently, a host of Chinese-built and funded architectural projects, architecture schools and professionals in Africa are now making a self-conscious

move in a new direction attuned to the promise of international partnerships yet driven by on-the-ground conditions and priorities and wary of the lingering positioning of Africa as laboratory for better endowed actors and institutions.

This paper reports a study of curricular transformation now in evidence in African Architecture programs in transition, with focus on Ethiopia and Rwanda.

Panel P006
Africa and Higher Education - A Transnational Perspective