The African Building Platform


Building Africa Exhibition

Nahom Teklu
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“…Understanding STATEHOOD through ARCHITECTURE…”

Building Africa is a creative exhibition on the findings of the African State Architecture research project conducted at SOAS University of London. It is a collection of distinct but interconnected exhibitions, each designed by a different local architect-designer, which will be installed in Addis Abeba, Johannesburg, Accra, and London; all in different approaches and formats.

Each of the African architect-designers, Nahom Teklu in Ethiopia, Matri-Archi(tecture (Khensani Jurczok-de Klerk, Aude Tollo, Tshego Mako and Tapiwa Manase) in South Africa, and a Ghana-based team will bring their own research-driven approach to interpreting the original findings.

The Building Africa Exhibition in Ethiopia was designed by architect Nahom Teklu with an aim to assemble a collection of stories about buildings and politics with an overarching narrative about how institutions and identities are described and shaped by architecture. The exhibition challenged visitors, complicating their assumptions about how architecture is made in Africa and what it tells us about collective identities and political institutions.

The exhibition content dealt with three topics:

State-building- how are state institutions given meaning through architecture?

Nation building- how are collective identities given meaning through architecture?

Continent-building- how is ‘Africa’- as an idea and institution- given meaning through architecture?
The exhibition told stories about some of Africa’s most exciting buildings – from colonial buildings in South Africa to football stadiums in the Democratic Republic of Congo; from a Chinese-built parliament in Zimbabwe to a small secondary school in Ghana and more. These buildings from around the continent were put into conversation with some of Ethiopia’s key buildings: the rock-hewn churches at Lalibela, the African Union Building and the Bole International Airport (Ethiopian Airlines). Through these juxtapositions, the exhibitions encouraged visitors to explore continuities and disjunctures in the architecture and politics of Africa.

The exhibition was staged over five days at three different semi-public venues in Addis Abeba, Ethiopia. From April 29-30, 2023 it was at the historic Addis Abeba Museum; from May 2-3, 2023 at the Creative Hub Ethiopia foyer space in Mexico; and on May 5, 2023, at the AAU, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design compound.

The exhibition was visited on May 4, 2023, by the cultural delegation of Chancellor Olaf Scholz at AAU, Alle School of Fine Arts and Design compound as part of the six-hour diplomatic visit of the Chancellor in Ethiopia.

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© July, 2024 Ketema Journal

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