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Art and Architecture at Work


Event, Publication


2012 - 2013

AAmatters team

Berend van der Lans




European Commission

GoDown Arts Centre

Relevant links

Bozar article


#architecture #urbanism #art #community #policy

Relevant projects

Abattoir Casablanca

In the context of the UN Habitat Governing Council Meeting that took place that took place in Nairobi, 15-18 April 2013, a workshop was organised on inclusive urban development in the African urban realm. This workshop was organised in collaboration with the European Commission, the Centre for Fine Arts (BOZAR - Brussels) as well as GoDown Arts Centre, ArchiAfrika and Wolff Architects.


Berend van der Lans from AAmatters compiled a publication for this event and lead the workshop that took place in the GoDown Arts Centre in Nairobi and involved Joy Mboya from the GoDown Arts Centre, Joe Addo from ArchiAfrika and Heinrich Wolff from Wolff Architects and a considerable representation of architects, planners and the cultural world from Nairobi. The results of the workshop were presented in the programme of the UN Habitat meeting. Also a presentation took place at the University of Nairobi.

At the invitation of UN Habitat, the EC/BOZAR project Art at Work (expanded since the Kampala Regional conference into Art § Architecture at Work), advocated in this high-level official forum the role of artists and architects for urban resonance: dream, inclusiveness, and creativity for urban welfare.

Since independences, African artists, particularly photographers, have documented urban life on the Continent, from daily pleasures and struggles, to critical urban, political and environmental issues affecting city life. New aesthetics have emerged, as well as a conscious will by artists to engage in urban development. The growth of contemporary art centres and art biennials in the last 20 years all over the Continent, and their urban programs, attest to this thirst for expression and commitment to the city. A new young generation of African architects is equally socially, culturally and environmentally conscious, placing priority on Africa-relevant resources, design, employment, and sustainability. They offer new approaches to urban planning and development, in tune with urban cultures and environmental issues.

A few best practice cases - researched and compiled by Berend van der Lans of African Architecture Matters and BOZAR - are presented, in the form of an exhibit and a side event, as inspirations for urban planning approaches that enhance social cohesion and stability in the city.  A publication has been prepared that can be downloaded as pdf as well.


In the publication – with an introduction by José Manuel Barroso - there is among others attention to the work of GoDown Arts Centre and their ‘Nai Ni Who?’ project in Nairobi, Doual’art from Douala - Cameroon, Wolff Architects in South Africa, La Fabrique Culturelle in Casablanca – Morocco and Francis Kéré in Bourkina Faso and Mali.

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