Kantamanto Market Burns Down Again and the Aga Khan Award

On Sunday, we were reached by the news that the Kantamanto Market in central Accra was on fire. Horrible pictures of the event on CitiFMonline. Luckily the day had just started and no casualties were reported. While politicians come and walk the now ashen site, market women cry out in grief over lost livelihoods and journalists try to count the number of market fires we have had in recent years,  the opportunity here is to think of how we want to build and maintain a market.

I suggest we take a look at Aga Khan Architecture Awards (AKAA) for market construction. Amazing, beautiful and functional markets have been built before!

Central Market in Koudougou, Burkina Faso


“Koudougou’s central market combines a covered hall with space for 624 stalls with a further 125 buildings containing 1’195 shop units, the vast majority of them small spaces of only 6.20 square metres. By virtue of its size, the project provided an important training ground for local masons. The market buildings are made almost exclusively of a local material – compressed earth blocks – using traditional Nubian techniques of arch and vault construction. Such self-sufficiency was deemed particularly desirable in light of the increasing costs of imported materials.”



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All pics from AKAA. Read more about the Central Market here

What I love about this market, apart from it being built by fireproof materials, is the beauty and light…Can we not build things that are pleasing to the eye and built to last?

Last week, the finalists for the 2013 Aga Khan Architecture Award  were released.

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What Should I See in Barcelona?

Borrowed from http://www.barcelona-turist.se/sagrada.htm

My vacation has now left the familiar path and will tomorrow be taking me to Barcelona. I have never been to Spain/Catalonia and am more than excited! I have about 5 days there, so what do I need to see?

I have heard of Gaudi’s architecture and the Museu Picasso.

What else should I see, eat, drink and not miss?

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>Tropical Contemporary Architecture: How to build a house in Ghana

> What is more urban than buildings?

Let me start the born-again blog with posting something on Ghanaian architecture or more precisely things to think about when building your house in the tropics.

Currently, there is a building boom in Ghana and virtually every other person seems to be building a house. Cement prices just hit the roof (see this article) and this coming weekend Ghana’s first ever (?) home improvement fair is taking place. Also,this is a topic that just recently has started to interest me, I guess with the opportunity of one day building my own house in Ghana drawing nearer…

First of all, lets think about the property/land you need to acquire. Fortunately, the blog Makola Law has done a checklist on what to think about here.

Second, there are ways to build a house that is environmentally friendly, cost effective and automatically cool. Forget expensive and unhealthy ACs! Check out the inspiring and sometimes surprisingly simple tips for tropical design at Aedhotep Developments. Just to give you an example of something easy to do:

Plant tall trees on the east and west sides of the house to shade walls

Other options include using a new technique to build, such as the one provided by ItalConstruct in Ghana which uses polystyrene sheets and iron mesh to create a house that imitates a cooling box! See a video on the technique here.

Third, when you have a plot and a sustainable structure…what makes a house Ghanaian? Is it Kente style design of the exterior that I wrote on here? Or adinkra symbols like a friend has incorporated in his home exterior? Is it a compound style design like the traditional Ghanaian houses? It is using Ghanaian materials like bamboo and clay bricks? Using African architects? Or is just any house in Ghana a Ghanaian house?

Picture of a, in my view lovely, Ghanaian contemporary designed house courtesy of Aedhotep Developments.

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>Nubuke and New Morning

Since I the day before yesterday challenged my fellow bloggers to take a positive twist to their blog posts, I am here leading by example.

There are a lot of new cultural initiatives in Accra and Ghana, often very ambitious and heartwarming, much needed and deeply interesting. Two of them have taken names that suggests “sunrise”, Nubuke means New Dawn in the Ewe language, New morning is the other one – coincidentally they are also my two favorites.

Nubuke Foundation focuses on recording, preserving and promoting Ghanaian culture and history though art. On their website they ask some interesting questions which further defines their purpose:

How best do we preserve the rich Ghanaian legacy in the face of 21st century challenges?
How do we engage with the globally challenged Ghanaian?.
How do we pass down our oral history when families are now split between several continents?
How do we define ourselves indigenously?

They have newly opened their wonderful, spacious premises in East Legon, close to Penta Hotel. About once a month they invite us the general public to an art opening of works that have never been seen before…Like the recent photos of 20th Century Architecture in Ghana.

Tomorrow, Sunday 19th July they invite you and me and everyone we know to the exhibit “Rendez-Vous: Contemporary Ghanaian Art”. The opening with music and small chops starts at 3.30 PM.

My other favorite new initiative is:

New Morning Café which is a stage for young musical talents of Accra.

They put up a wonderful show that has so far taken place on Fridays (see review of “Slam Friday” here) and Saturday evenings at exquisite singer Bibie Brew’s private home in Tesano, Accra – but I heard rumors that the show will be moved to Tuesdays due to Bibie’s engagement as a judge with a talent show in Lagos recording on Saturdays.

A night at New Morning Café is filling for body and soul, wonderfully relaxing and interactive in the most positive sense of the word!

Look out for the next New Morning Café Evening!

In the pics, interactions with the founders of above described establishments.

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