Harvard Wheelwright Prize “Bucky in Africa”

The Harvard Graduate School of Design announced today that HuMatLab director is one of four finalists for the 2023 Wheelwright Prize, for his research proposal below:

“Bucky in Africa: Remembering the Chemistry of Architecture”

DK Osseo-Asare is a Ghanaian American designer who makes buildings, landscapes, communities, objects, and digital tools. He is a co-founding principal of the transatlantic architecture and integrated design studio Low Design Office (LowDo), based in Austin, United States, and Tema, Ghana. He holds an appointment in Humanitarian Materials at the Pennsylvania State University, where he directs the Humanitarian Materials Lab, a transdisciplinary research lab architecting materials for human welfare. He is a TED Global Fellow; member, Ghana Institution of Engineering (GhIE); and received A.B. in Engineering Design and M.Arch degrees from Harvard University, with a focus on kinetic architecture and network power.

With “Bucky in Africa: Remembering the Chemistry of Architecture,” Osseo-Asare seeks to decolonize the practice of architecture using a mixed methods approach of action research to investigate the African roots of “design science” from an architectural perspective. The proposal’s focus starts with the decade-long itinerary of the American design scientist R. Buckminster Fuller’s transdisciplinary teaching and research in Africa. By studying the links between indigenous African technologies of design and established conventions of architectural production, Osseo-Asares incorporates linguistics, archival research, fieldwork, and community-based making with academic and community partners across Africa, the Middle East and Europe. The collected research constitutes a sequence of temporary outputs that will also contribute to the development of the next generation of African architects and designers, considered in the context of the global African diaspora.

Osseo-Asare’s Wheelwright proposal research stems from his finalist proposal for the 2019 MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program, “Bambot: Fufuzela,” which reconceived architecture as living structure with independent agency, understood from an African perspective, in which all material is alive and “spiritually active.” The Wheelwright Prize will support Osseo-Asare’s fieldwork throughout North Africa and Middle East, East Africa, West, Central and Southern Africa, and result in a publication, public lectures, and exhibition content as well as a series of workshops in various African communities.