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Clare Dowdy

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Vitra Design Museum's Manuel Herz On The "Heroic" Modern Architecture Of Africa

10:30 - 1 May, 2015
Vitra Design Museum's Manuel Herz On The "Heroic" Modern Architecture Of Africa, La Pyramide, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), by Rinaldo Olivieri, 1973. Image © Iwan Baan
La Pyramide, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), by Rinaldo Olivieri, 1973. Image © Iwan Baan

On display until May 31st, the Vitra Design Museum's "Architecture of Independence – African Modernism" exhibition displays a cross-section of Africa's experimental architecture from the post-colonial years of the 1960s. Covering more than 80 projects in Kenya, Zambia, Ghana, Côte d’Ivoire, and Senegal, the exhibition aims to shed light on this little-known period of architecture history, and challenge Western notions of African countries. In this interview, originally published by Metropolis Magazine as "Q&A: Curator Manuel Herz on Africa's 'Grandiose' Modern Architecture," Curator Manuel Herz reveals the origins of the exhibition and shares his thoughts light on some of the buildings which the exhibition highlights.

Clare Dowdy: What triggered your interest in the post-colonial architecture of Central and Sub-Saharan Africa?

Manuel Herz: I was in Nairobi a couple of times around 2007 and noticed the architecture of that period was of outstanding quality but virtually unknown outside Kenya. This triggered an interest to research the whole of Sub-Saharan Africa. I found that the political urgency that existed at the time of the independence process is embodied in the architecture.

Hotel Independence, Dakar (Senegal), by Henri Chomette and Roland Depret, 1973-1978. Image © Iwan Baan Independence Arch, Accra (Ghana) by the Public Works Departments, 1961. Image Courtesy of Manuel Herz FIDAK - Foire Internationale de Dakar, Dakar (Senegal), by Jean Francois Lamoureux & Jean-Louis Marin, 1974. Image © Iwan Baan Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi (Kenya), by Karl Henrik Nostvik, 1967-1973. Image © Iwan Baan + 8

When Architects Try Their Hand at Industrial Design

01:00 - 29 July, 2014
Getting locals involved helped Workshop to engender a sense of community in Tacloban as well as solve their practical problems. Image © Nelson Petilla
Getting locals involved helped Workshop to engender a sense of community in Tacloban as well as solve their practical problems. Image © Nelson Petilla

From Frank Lloyd Wright to Mies van der Rohe, many architects have dabbled in designing smaller-scale items. While some argue that industrial design is not an architect's place, many would beg to differ. The following article, originally published on Design Curial, describes various architects involved with industrial design today.

Architects who take a break from the built environment and turn their attention to designing smaller items are most often driven – initially at least – by what they see as necessity. They struggle to find the right furniture, signage or lighting for their interiors, and convince their client that they are the perfect people to design them.

Those architects quickly get a taste for the smaller scale then hunt down opportunities to design other items, in the hope that some may go into mass production. This is further fueled by those 'big names' who are approached by manufacturers to use their signature to brand the product. While there is a logic to this sequence of events, it still begs the question: why would anyone who can get commissioned to design a building bother with anything smaller?