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  • Farwell to Ben Christiaanse. our chairman, mentor & friend

    It is with great regret and sorrow that we inform you about the passing of our long-time board member, chairman, friend and mentor Ben Christiaanse. We would like to take this opportunity to express our condolences to Margreet and the rest of his family and thank Ben for all his support. Ben’s over 40 years of banking experience in Europe and Africa was a great asset to our organisation, that it came with Ben’s warmth and kindness was at least as important. Our first encounter with Ben was back in 2008. As a CEO of the National Microfinance Bank in Tanzania, he extended a helping hand for the founding of a modest museum at Mtoni Palace in Zanzibar. From that moment onwards he never shied away from giving us advice. This advice took a structural turn when - in collaboration with Stadsherstel Amsterdam - we got involved in the explorations for the start of a real estate company for monumental properties in Zanzibar. Thanks to his input a group of local investors stepped into this venture that became Hifadhi Zanzibar Ltd. Hifadhi is currently restoring and managing an Omani palace and is soon to start the refurbishment of Majestic Cinema in Stone Town, Zanzibar’s UNESCO World Heritage Site. In 2012 Ben became the obvious choice for AAmatters' chairman, once that seat became vacant. He combined a critical look on the feasibility of our plans, budgets and projects with a warm friendship that became stronger every year. His dedication remained uncontested, also after managerial changes and a growing team. Ben will be dearly missed. Ben Christiaanse in one of the pre-shareholders meetings of Hifadhi, Zanzibar in 2014.

  • Reimagining Future African Cities at the Nieuwe Instituut in Rotterdam

    On the 14th of October AAMatters will participate in an afternoon dedicated to critical exploration and (re)imagining the future of African cities. The event kicks-off with panel discussions featuring mentors and practitioners from the Building Beyond Programme, followed by an hour long presentation by AAMatters in which we will explore the practicalities and challenges of mapping as a tool of integrated urban development together with Ali Khamis from the planning department in Zanzibar and concludes with a talk by Rem Koolhas revisiting his numerous encounters with the city of Lagos. The programme accompanies the exhibition Water Cities Rotterdam by Kunle Adeyemi and there will be opportunities to view the exhibition between the talks and presentations. The event is ticketed, part 1 and 2 are free. You can sign up for any of the parts here Programme overview: 14:00 – 16:00 hr: Part I: Building Beyond Prescribed Futures 16:00 – 17:00 hr: Part II: Foundations for Future African Cities 17:00 – 18:00 hr: Network drinks and Detour through Water Cities Rotterdam 18:00 – 19:30 hr: Part III: Revisiting Lagos with Rem Koolhaas 19:30 hr: Network drinks and Detour through Water Cities Rotterdam 22:00 hr: End of evening For more information on the individual parts see: Reimagining Future African Cities The event is organised by the Nieuwe Instituut, together with the Prince Claus Fund and the Creative Industries Fund NL and AAMatters. @

  • aam joining pcf mobile lab in EGYPT

    AAMatters will be a part of the Mobile Lab Egypt taking place in Cairo. It is a four-day long programme co-curated by May al-Ibrashy, Megawra—Built Environment Collective & Prince Claus Fund, featuring a symposium on the built environment in the context of Africa, visits to cultural sites, an exhibition, workshops and lectures at Tahrir Cultural Centre with cultural practitioners from various disciplines. AAMatters will participate in the public symposium "Rethinking the Built Environment in the African Context: Ethics, Methods and Interdisciplinarity'' taking its cue from the ideas on built environment, education and interdisciplinarity developed by Tahayyuz (an alliance formed by Megawra, 10 Tooba, and Mansour for Architecture and Conservation) and will host a workshop "Mapping Revisited: a critical look at mapping as a methodology for integrated urban development". Both events are open to the public. For more information see: Mobile Lab Egypt Public Symposium, 16th of September 2023 Mobile Lab Egypt Workshops, 18th of September 2023

  • AAM in the book “A Manifesto for Community Driven Processes for Climate Responsive Design”

    The proceedings of the Community Based Processes conference in Kigali, Rwanda are out now! Last February AAMatters was part of the Community Based Processes for Climate Responsive Design forum at the University of Rwanda in Kigali, organised by Enabel. The aim of the workshop was to raise awareness around the critical importance of community-driven processes and their potential to drive a positive impact on the local ecosystem in terms of design and construction process for sustainable and long-lasting buildings and environments. The manifesto captures and explores various community-based processes from the design and construction, transition settlements and home grown solutions perspectives. The manifesto highlights best practices and insights of initiatives implemented across the five countries that were represented at the workshop. The book highlights three key messages strongly. The undeniable power of community in shaping its surroundings and as a collective voice showcases positive change, transforming spaces to meet their needs, aspirations and heritage. The indispensable role that communities play in the sustainability and success of any project as the driving force behind initiatives, taking ownership and ensuring longevity. Communities play a pivotal role in an era of climate change through their accumulated wisdom and deep-rooted connections to their places. Being part of the Forum was a fruitful, interesting and challenging experience. Together with the other participants, we hope that this exchange of experiences and knowledge will widen the participation from the private sector, academia, development and governmental partners in East Africa. You can find the full publication visiting our open Library!

  • On Wednesday April 12, the Dutch premiere of Tug of War (Vuta N’Kuvute) in Kriterion Amsterdam

    On Wednesday April 12 at 7pm, Africadelic, in collaboration with African Architecture Matters, presents the Dutch premiere of Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute) in film theatre Kriterion in Amsterdam. This award-winning film about love and resistance in the final years of British colonial rule in Zanzibar received its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival and was Tanzania's second Oscar entry ever (and the first in over two decades) – and now you can watch it on the big screen in the Netherlands! With an introduction by Elisabeth Hesemans, who was involved as an actor trainer in the production of the film, and Franka van Marrewijk, who lives and works in Dar es Salaam and is a member of African Architecture Matters, an organisation involved in the redevelopment of Majestic Cinema in Zanzibar, where parts of the film were shot. The evening also serves as a pre-announcement of the Africadelic Festival 2023, which will take place from May 24-31 at various locations across Amsterdam. Africadelic2023 x Kriterion: Tug of War (Vuta N'Kuvute, NL premiere!) Date: Wednesday April 12, 2023 Time: 7pm Venue: Kriterion Title: Vuta N'Kuvute (Tug of War) Director: Amil Shivji Country: Tanzania Year: 2021 Duration: 92 min Language: Swahili Subtitles: English Extra: Introduction by Elisabeth Hesemans and Franka van Marrewijk More info & RSVP: Tickets: Trailer here Synopsis Tug of War On the coast of the ancient trading port in the ‘Spice Islands’ of the Indian Ocean, under British protectorate and overseen by the Sultan of Oman, Denge, a young Mswahili revolutionary, fights for a free Zanzibar. Denge and his companions import socialist pamphlets and distribute Swahili translations around the island. They stage uprisings in dance halls and clubs from foreigners to demand political independence. Denge dreams of nothing else, until he meets Yasmin. She is a young Indian-Zanzibarian woman in search of her own forbidden freedoms and she didn't expect to be intrigued by Denge's mysteries… About Africadelic Africadelic is an annual festival on and around International Africa Day (May 25) celebrating the cultural creativity, diversity and community from Africa and the African diaspora. The Africadelic Festival is an ode to the motherland, its cultural riches, and the impact that Afrodescendants, i.e. people of African descent, have on global culture and society. From May 24-31, 2023, the festival offers another week full of concerts, films, talks and other engaging events in Amsterdam. This premiere screening of Tug of War in Kriterion serves as the pre-announcement of the festival in May. See you there!

  • AAM in Community Based Processes forum Kigali on 15th and 16th of February 2023

    On the 15th and 16th of February we were at Kigali Community Based Processes forum! The even was co-organised by Enabel, the University of Rwanda and the Ministry of Infrastructure of the Republic of Rwanda and was held in the Faculty of Architecture and Environmental Design of the University of Rwanda. The overall objectives of the Forum were: To Reinforce and widen the community of practice and ownership around the Manifesto. To widen participation from the private sector, academia, development and governmental partners in East Africa. To stimulate the wider application of community-based processes, making interventions more sustainable in both socio-economic and environmental aspects. AAmatters were one of the many and very interesting presentations during this exciting weekend. The presentations and discussion were divided under three main categories: Construction / Community Driven Processes for Climate Responsive Design Urbanism / Upgrading unplanned settlements Space Management / Homegrown solutions If you are curious to see our Forum presentation, you can find it here! Being part of the Forum was a fruitful, interesting and challenging experience. We hope that this exchange of experiences and knowledge will widen the participation from the private sector, academia, development and governmental partners in East Africa. More info here:

  • KAMPALA, MUSEUM, CMP, workshop & building heritage awarness - all in one video

    A recap of the week-long international workshop in Kampala in 2020 during which the team started to work on the project. In the words of the custodians of the museum and experts working on the project the video explains the importance of the CMP as a strategy guiding the future developments of the building. Quite a feat! The work on the video was supervised by Adengo Architecture, credits for the production go to: Uganda National Museum with support from the Getty Foundation.

  • The Conservation Management Plan for THE Uganda NATIONAL Museum is out!

    It’s been a long time in the making, but the first conservation plan for the Uganda National Museum is finally available for download. We have been working alongside a fantastic team composed of historians, architects, designers, conservation specialists, museum staff and managers to produce the CMP. The interdisciplinary team behind the project gives a hint of the extent of expertise that goes into the creation of documents like this. The CMP is not only a tool that enables the building owner (or manager) to plan activities in a structured way in order to safeguard the building and harness its potential, but it is also an invaluable record and source of information on its history. In the process of creating the CMP the team: researched the history of the building, investigated changes and developments of the museum, assessed its condition and defined its cultural, social and architectural significance. We are very proud of being a part of this project and look forward to working on other CMPs in the future . The CMP can be downloaded from the Getty Foundation report library. Find out more about the project here.

  • Our participatory tool at the Biennale Internationale Design Saint-ÉtiennE!

    2022 is the year of the «Biennale Internationale Design Saint-Étienne», a major cultural event where designers, researchers, intellectuals and art lovers from all over the world come together to question and discuss the practice of design and experiment with its various methods. The 12th edition of the biennale will be running from the 6th of April to 31st of July under theme of "Bifurcations". Bifurcating means to abandon one direction in order to explore another one. Our lives are a series of bifurcations and through this theme, the biennale wants to highlight innovative, inspiring, creative, collective or individual practices that are developed when the unexpected enters our lives and challenges our habits and living environment. According Olivier Peyricot, the scientific director of the Bienniale, “with 7 exhibitions and more than 150 events, the Biennial invites a collective reflection on the capacity of design to accompany these changes. Whether it is a critical and forward-looking tool, an inventive method or a cultural phenomenon, design is being debated in Saint-Étienne.” And guess what? Africa – a continent at the heart of the contemporary ecological and political issues - is the guest of honour of this year’s edition. Inspiring practices from the continent will be the focus of one of the seven exhibitions featuring in the biennale. For us, this event offers the possibility to highlight one of the strategic tools we use in participatory urban planning: the "Design your own house" game board. This object has become an effective way to collect information in a playful way and to overcome language and/or cultural barriers. Visitors will also have the chance to have a closer look at our latest publication “Ng’ambo Atlas, Historic Urban Landscape of Zanzibar Town’s ‘Other Side’”. For more information see the website:

  • With a year’s delay the exhibition ‘It happens here’ finally opens its doors to the public

    Can you plan do-it-yourself culture? How do you design a street with the entire neighbourhood? And how do you renew a city without losing the old one? Discover how to make a city together at ‘It happens here.’. ’It happens here.’ is a 30-day long manifestation that celebrates initiative, experiment and interaction in urban planning. With an exhibition and a diverse programme in the monumental Amstelkerk in Amsterdam. Discover how citizens, pioneers, countercultures, architects and city planners are making the new city together. By giving space to self-building and unplanned renewal and by recognising the value of what is originally there, inhabitants remain owners of ‘their’ city. ’It happens here.’ is an initiative of Stadsherstel Amsterdam, African Architecture Matters, Space&Matter, Amsterdam University of Applied Sciences and the City of Amsterdam. The space between the beaten tracks is where it happens. Come by and wander through the stories of the collective city. An important part of the exhibition includes the presentation of the Ng’ambo Atlas, that has been developed by the Government of Zanzibar and AAmatters, and presents the results of the collaboration between Zanzibar, Amsterdam, UNESCO and AAmatters. The Ng’ambo Atlas exhibition was also presented in collaboration with the City of Amsterdam at the Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism in 2019. In the context of the exhibition, debates and workshops are organised. Welcome to the Amstelkerk from October 29th to November 21th. Specially interested? Join us on the 19th November for a special viewing with the curators and makers of the exhibition! It happens here. October 29th to November 21th Amstelkerk Amsterdam Opening hours exhibition: Monday to Friday 09:00 - 17:00 Sunday 21st November 13:00 -17:00 Free admission For reservations and programme updates, please send an email to: More information here

  • join us in the next Localtalks session!

    Coming Wednesday, Localworks is hosting another of its special online sessions: Localtalks. This time the topic is based on preserving architectural heritage in East Africa. The event discussion will be preceded and guided by two presentations. The first presentation will explore specific examples of architectural heritage in Kampala, Uganda. It will be led by Timothy Latim, an independent photographer and designer who has experience documenting Ugandan heritage buildings. He will share his observations and findings about selected buildings and the roles they have played in society. Following this, the focus will shift to the practicalities behind preserving architectural heritage across East Africa. This angle is to be presented by our own Iga Perzyna and Berend van der Lans. They will share some challenges behind preserving heritage before unpacking potential tools and strategies for implementing preservation in the East African context. Some of the questions that will be brought to the discussion table are: How can you protect a building that is threatened by developments when people are unaware of its historical importance? What type of decision making and management is needed to protect the integrity and cultural significance of existing buildings in the future? How do you prevent an old building from becoming redundant or a financial burden? You can register for the event following this link And click here to find more information on Localtalks and their mission.

  • It happens here! - podcast series available online

    In a new podcast series ‘It happens here’, initiators, experts and facilitators explore in conversation to what extent ‘places’ can change the city. The conversations touch upon ideals and disappointments, support systems and challenges, money and municipality. But mostly, they’re about the fact that things can be done differently: spontaneously, experimentally, and together. In the third episode Marie Morel (AAM), Jessica Dikmoet and Nadia Tillon (Imagine IC) discuss how stories can - or should- change urban development. From Amsterdam to Zanzibar, they have captured stories of residents that showed the relevance of buildings and spaces that - at first glance - might seem aesthetically irrelevant for a professional designer or planner. AAM captured the stories of residents of Ng'ambo that were translated into recommendations for the spatial plan and eventually into the Ng'ambo Atlas Imagine IC unraveled the meaning of an old parking garage for many residents in the South East of Amsterdam that convinced the city of Amsterdam to give residents a voice in the renewal plans. Although in very different locations, the contributors of this episode agree on the need for more diversity in - and equality of - perspectives on heritage. With these different perspectives integrated in urban plans for the future, residents will feel more engaged in the making of their neighborhoods and (re)gain a sense of ownership. The podcast series consists of five episodes and you can listen to all of them by following this link: P.S Unfortunately only in Dutch. The podcast is a part of the postponed exhibition It happens here. #exhibition #Culture #IntangibleHeritage #Zanzibar #Amsterdam #diy #Participatory #UrbanPlanning #Placemaking #HistoricUrbanLandscape

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