AAmatters is a non-PROFIT consultancy FIRM working in the fields of design, planning, research and education. 


We believe in African cities in which people, places and (hi)stories are at the heart of their growth and advocate for an historically, culturally and contextually sensitive urban development. 


We work on subjects related to African architecture and urbanism that bring together cultural heritage, sustainability and urban (re)development. Our projects focus on the question how to manage and develop the dynamic African urban environment while respecting its historic and cultural values. By collaborating with people and organizations from various disciplines we explore and develop multidisciplinary strategies and interventions that respond to that question. 


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.


The leadership of AAmatters is comprised of the director Berend van der Lans and four associates (key members with specific focus areas and responsibilities): Amélie Chauvin, Marie Morel, Alexandra Papadaki and Iga Perzyna. The group is responsible for the development of mid- and long-term policies and meets every second week to discuss ongoing affairs, what projects to take on, review general operations and strategy. The daily management of AAmatters is in the hands of the director.

The Supervisory Board oversees and advises on the organization and ensures the maintenance of AAmatters’ mission. 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


The NGO AAmatters was founded by Antoni Folkers and Berend van der Lans in 2010. It began as an NGO with the mission of sharing knowledge one the African built environment through practice and activism. Over the years it grew into a collaborative organization with many contributors working on its projects. 

Antoni and Berend have a long history in the field of African architecture and urbanism through practice and activism. 

After years of practice on the continent, Antoni and Berend founded the NGO ArchiAfrika, a platform for dialogue and knowledge on the African built environment, with Belinda van Buiten, Janneke Bierman and Joep Mol in 2001. ArchiAfrika’s network grew via conferences, activism and projects over the years and its’ base shifted to Ghana in 2012. Since then it is run by Joe Addo and his team. 

AAmatters has since its inception worked on a wide range of projects  and worked in these projects together with local and international institutes. 

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