The African Futures Institute | A New School Of Architecture Set To Open In Accra

Founded by Lesley Lokko and Sir David Adjaye OBE, the African Futures Institute wants to shift the axis of architectural innovation and influence away from the global North towards the global South, paying homage to the history of the Black Atlantic.

by GRIOT - Published on 24/06/2021

What if… a new school of architecture suddenly emerged from a new and unexpected place? The African Futures Institute (AFI), headquartered in Accra, Ghana, is a new venture that aims to offer a radically different and innovative educational experience to Ghanaian, African and international students, as well as provide an important local and global platform for conversations, exhibitions and publications on architecture and related disciplines. With an average age of 19.8, Africa is the world’s youngest continent, alive with possibility and potential. In this “laboratory of the future,” education plays a crucial and critical role. One of the AFI’s central ambitions is to shift the axis of architectural innovation and influence away from the global North towards the global South, paying homage to the history of the Black Atlantic, a phrase coined by the British sociologist Paul Gilroy, to describe a culture that is simultaneously African and diasporic, a multi-faceted, creatively restless and deeply imaginative identity that holds enormous potential for built environment disciplines globally and locally.

The AFI provides a space that is simultaneously physical, digital and conceptual, underpinned by the desire to provoke and support new scholarship and new opportunities for radical African excellence. It brings together teachers, researchers and practitioners in a wide range of built environment disciplines, including architecture, landscape architecture and urban design, as well as new and innovative disciplinary combinations that are relevant to the African and African diaspora contexts and times. Through academic and practice partnerships globally, it aims to address the pressing need for a new model of education that brings together the arts, humanities and sciences, breaks down artificial and inherited disciplinary boundaries and provides a visionary, ground-breaking experience for the next generation of thinkers, practitioners and activists.

Founded by Lesley Lokko, former founder and director of the Graduate School of Architecture at the University of Johannesburg, in collaboration with Sir David Adjaye OBE, the AFI is supported by three distinguished boards — patrons, trustees and academic advisors. The AFI Patrons are Sir David Adjaye OBE (Ghana/UK); Professor Kwame Anthony Appiah (Ghana/USA); Dr Margaret Nkrumah (Ghana); Professor Tshilidzi Marwala (South Africa); Professor Hanif Kara (Uganda/UK) and Afua Hirsch (Ghana/UK). The Trustees are Lady Ashley Shaw Scott Adjaye (Ghana/USA); Kwabena Akosa (Ghana); Dr Sean Anderson (USA); Dr Patrick Ata (Ghana); Kofi Bio (Ghana/UK); Sean Hardcastle (Ghana); Mariam Kamara (Niger/USA); Eva Kavuma (Uganda/South Africa); Kate Otten (South Africa); Augustus Richardson (Ghana); Victor Sackey (Ghana); Fred Swart (South Africa) and Albert Williamson-Taylor (Nigeria/UK).

The AFI is supported by a global network of academic advisors: Christian Benimana (Rwanda); Professor Tomà Berlanda (Italy/South Africa); Professor Ana Betancour (Uruguay/Sweden); Professor C Greig Crysler (Canada/USA); Kofi Essel-Appiah (Ghana); Dr Samia Henni (Algeria/Switzerland); Professor Jonathan Hill (UK); Dr Caroline Wanjiku Kihato (Kenya/US); Léopold Lambert (France); Dr Thandi Loewenson (Zimbabwe/UK); Professor Iain Low (South Africa); Dr Mpho Matsipa (South Africa/US); Akosua Mensah (Ghana); Professor Luca Molinari (Italy); Samir Pandya (UK); Rahesh Ram (UK); Rahel Shawl (Ethiopia); Dr Huda Tayob (South Africa); Sumayya Vally (South Africa) and Professor Mabel O Wilson (USA). The AFI is supported by a grant from the Ford Foundation.

The AFI is non-accredited and postgraduate-only. It offers a number of different short-term and longer-term programmes, from introductory foundation courses to year-long Masters-level programmes, aimed at students wishing to explore radical new ideas in design, technology, history and theory and inter-disciplinary studies. Details of academic programmes, research opportunities, job vacancies and its newsletter will be disseminated in due course.

The AFI’s website will go live on July 26, 2021. To read more about the AFI and its patrons, trustees and academic advisors, visit the AFI’s digital brochures here.

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