A3-Archnet Collaborative Announce the First West Africa Architecture Biennale Kicking off in February

The A3 – Archnet Collaborative for Documentation of Africa’s built heritage is elated to announce the first West < > Africa Architecture Biennale scheduled to hold from 20 February – 31 July 2022.

The inaugural edition themed Endangered Heritage follows from our last held public panel on Friday 31 July 2020. West < >Africa Architecture Biennale is an international biennale organized by the A3-Archnet Collaborative to foster and grow an academic and professional community around the intellectual preservation of under researched, underexposed, and underrecognized architecture in Western Africa. The biennale serves as a forum to collect and share documentation of obscure and lesser-known modes and styles of architectural heritage as formal objects, in addition to studies of the cultural factors that contribute to their non-canonical attributes and status.

Though West Africa serves as the regional hub for the works under study, the combination of these two words has separate identities under hegemonic binaries of progress and tradition, modern and vernacular, colonial and postcolonial. When these words meet, they serve as the connection between the symbology and history of the West and Africa (“West”, “Africa”, “West Africa”) in both a continental and global context, to become the discursive basis for teasing out and dismantling what factors contribute to architecture of the West African cannon and subaltern architectures. 

The West < >Africa Architecture Biennale will interrogate the criteria and processes that lead to the valorization of certain structures and architectural traditions over others.  It also aims to collect documentation of architectural and urban planning projects in this regional hub.  Programming may include round tables, lectures, conferences, seminars, workshops, exhibitions, and other events. The biennale will also serve as the space to organize long term pedagogical workshops around how language, globalization, urbanization, environmental politics, material histories, construction methods, pedagogy, and architectural education affects what becomes in/visible, under/represented.

“this inaugural edition will be a journey of discovery through knowledge building activities such as: a public panel and workshops to investigate the issues that orchestrate what is seen; before terminating in a public exhibition that unmasks the hitherto underreported, under researched and under documented architectures in Africa.

Michael Toler PhD and Baba Oladeji, Co-Directors of the A3-Archnet Collaborative

Component events and venues will be announced in the coming days. We ask that you follow our social media pages and website/s to get more information. There will also be an open call for volunteers who can assist in staging this inaugural event. For more enquiries, please email: a3-archnet@mit.edu

About the A3-Archnet Collaborative

The A3-Archnet Collaborative is a knowledge joint venture between A3: Archives of African Architectures and Aga Khan Documentation Center of the MIT Libraries that is committed to the documentation of African architecture. In 2019, the collaborative received seed funding from MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) toward Digital Documentation of Nigeria’s Built Heritage. This project is being supported by the MIT Science and Technology Initiatives, AbdulJameel World Education Education Lab (J-WEL), PatrickWaheed Consultancy PWDC. More information: www.a3africa.org | www.archnet.org

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