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African Architecture Matters is a not-for-profit consultancy working with the African built environment in the fields of heritage, planning, research and education

We are particularly concerned with the question of how to manage and develop the dynamically changing built environment with respect to the community, culture and history. By collaborating with people and organisations from various disciplines we explore and develop multidisciplinary strategies and interventions that respond to that question.

MISION & VISION

Our mission is to develop, deliver and promote sustainable, socially inclusive and culturally sensitive projects concerned with the broadly understood historical and contemporary African built environment. We want to be a go-to partner for those who wish to create sustainable, socially inclusive and culturally sensitive urban environments in Africa. 

APPROACH

Our approach is integrated, multidisciplinary and emphasizes an open and continuous dialogue with our stakeholders. We always work in association with local partners. Through our projects we seek to contribute to local capacity building and knowledge transfer by intensively involving communities, scholars, governmental parties and the private sector.

Collaborative; our projects are always undertaken in partnership with organizations with strong local ties – on equal basis and aiming at strengthening capacity – and/or organizations with the right expertise.

Context sensitive; context and local conditions are the basis for project setups, processes and outcomes. Our project strategies are formed by the context, not the other way around.

Practise oriented; our projects and studies are always oriented towards implementation and do not remain theoretical exercises.

Research by design, design by research; we believe in the power of design and use design as a tool for communication and testing of theory. It makes projects and processes tangible and helps the interaction with peer groups. It is faster, cost effective and project funds are not finished before a design result has surfaced.

Open source, sharing; as an NGO with a public goal, we aim to share all project results and outcomes publicly to contribute to the general knowledge on sustainable urban development with a specific focus on Africa.

Accumulating expertise; our experience in design, planning and activism related to Africa’s built environment spans over 30 years providing a fruitful basis for our services – and it keeps expanding.

Proactive in project creation; we are always looking for innovative challenges and opportunities that contribute to the development of sustainable urban development. We take initiatives to build alliances, partnerships and start projects with the aim to support this.

What we do

We have a wide range of expertise in the fields of heritage, planning, research and education and assist our partners, clients and stakeholders in various activities that support inclusive, sustainable and culturally sensitive urban development and dissemination of knowledge on the historical and contemporary African built environment. You can expect us to deliver outputs that are based on research and expert analysis and take into account the physical, historic, social and policy context in which we are working.   

Our services and activities

Mapping and recording of urban landscapes

Drafting of local area plans

Built heritage and heritage planning and management advice 

Interactive community consultations 

Institutional capacity building 

Designing and curating exhibitions

Development and implementation of workshops, events, conferences 

Project management and coordination 

Structure

AAMatters’ team is composed of a director; Berend van der Lans and five associates: Iga Perzyna, Amélie Chauvin, Marie Morel, Alexandra Papadaki and Franka van Marrewijk. The team meets regularly to discuss ongoing affairs, what projects to take on and to develop and review general operations and strategies. The daily management of the AAMatters is in the hands of a smaller executive team.

The Supervisory Board oversees and advises on the organization and makes sure that AAmatters’ mission and objectives are upheld. The Board is consulted on a regular basis (at least bi-annually) and approves policies, budgets and the accountancy. The Supervisory Board is comprised of:

 Ben Christiaanse, Chairman and Former CEO of NMB Bank Tanzania and at present holding several supervisory functions in Africa.

 Reinier Hietink, Treasurer and VP Global Key Accounts Greif Inc.

 Martien de Vletter, Secretary and associate director of the Canadian Centre for Architecture

History

AAmatters was established in 2010 by Antoni Folkers and Berend van der Lans. It began as an NGO with the mission to share knowledge on the African built environment through practice and activism. Over the years it grew into an organization with many collaborations and international partners working on its projects. Prior to the establishment of AAMatters, in 2001, Antoni and Berend founded ArchiAfrika with Belinda van Buiten, Janneke Bierman and Joep Mol. ArchiAfrika is a platform for dialogue and knowledge on the African built environment. The NGO moved its base to Ghana in 2012, and is since then run by Joe Addo and his team.

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