African Architecture, Education and Possibility in the 1960s
Presented by Daniel Magaziner
Date: Monday, 15 May, 2017 - 15:00
This article considers the history of an experiment in architectural education that took place at what is today the University of Nairobi, between 1965 – 1967. Organized by Selby Mvusi, a South African industrial designer, and Derek Morgan, a British expatriate architect, what was known as the “Foundation Course” attempted to think past established paradigms of architectural education on the continent, in keeping with post-modernist, social, and philosophical critiques then circulating around the globe. Based on archival sources – including those in private collections – and oral interviews, this article situates the Foundation Course within the historiography of African architecture; post-World War II architecture more broadly; and especially within the context of the possibilities of intellectual life in post-colonial Kenya and beyond. It considers the content of Mvusi and Morgan’s intellectual partnership and project, by tracing their individual trajectories and especially the pedagogical scheme they developed at Nairobi. The article traces the intellectual lineages of their concepts and explores their articulation within the post-colonial university, until the course was cancelled in June 1967. Mvusi died shortly thereafter; the article ends by considering how he had imagined the Foundation Course as a laboratory for both being and building in post-colonial Africa, by closely reading a paper he presented in New York on the course’s conclusions in October 1967, mere weeks before he died.
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