Harvard Wheelwright Prize “Bucky in Africa”

The Harvard Graduate School of Design announced today that HuMatLab director, DK Osseo-Asare, is a finalist for the 2023 Wheelwright Prize for his proposal:

“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.

Harvard GSD’s 2023 Wheelwright Prize finalists are (left to right) Jingru (Cyan) Cheng, Maya Bird-Murphy, Isabel Abascal, and DK Osseo-Asare.

Repair Revolution! at Museum für Gestaltung Zürich

Installation view of the exhibition Image: Susanne Völlm © ZHdK

AMP spacecraft built in and around the Agbogbloshie scrapyard in Accra, Ghana, and upgraded at the ZKM in Karlsruhe, Germany, is now on display at the Museum für Gestaltung Zürich, as part of the exhibition “Repair Revolution!” on public view from March 31 – October 15, 2023. New features included for this exhibition include latest iteration of the modular “Parawall” archi-technology under development since 2013-2014, with a cross-bracing pattern refined with assistance from current researcher Alireza Zamani working at HuMatLab in dialog with Kwabena Acheampong, who led co-development with AMP Makers Collective community in Accra, Ghana. Folded Aluminum toolbox pods digitally fabricated with a CNC plasma cutter in Ghana are scheduled for installation in Zurich during summer 2023. Yasmine Abbas, who directs Penn State’s Immersive Experiences Lab produced the film explaining aspects of the project “Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform” that the installation, Spacecraft_ZKM @ZHdk, plays on loop within the gallery space of the museum in Zurich, a major venue of international exhibition and design scholarship, which commissioned the new work for the curated group show “Repair Revolution!”

Driving the Human in Berlin

HuMatLab joined with Penn State’s Spatial Æffect Lab to develop the prototype “[email protected]” (i.e., habitat), as part of the Driving the Human art-science initiative coordinated by acatech, the German National Academy of Science and Engineering, Forecast, Karlsruhe University of Arts and Design, and ZKM | Center for Art and Media Karlsruhe, with support from the German Federal Ministry for the Environment, Radialsystem, Berlin, Germany. (April 9, 2021 – October 17, 2021). First public installation of fully digitally-fabricated fufuzela (v.2.0, CNC-routed laminated bamboo) and interactive fufuzela skin. “Driving the Human is a catalyst for experimentation, shaping sustainable and collective futures that combine science, technology, and the arts in a transdisciplinary and collaborative approach.” Project overview:

AMP model in action: design pedagogy

HuMatLab presented AMP model to 20 Masters of Architecture and Urban Design students from TU Berlin in the DESIGN STUDIO, WS 2020/2021, taught by Prof. Dr. Philipp MisselwitzMoritz Ahlert: Global Maker Space(s) | Spaces, practices and infrastructures for commons-based urban production

[Initial prototype of AMP spacecraft in Agbogbloshie scrapyard shown in poster below. Image: Julien Lanoo/LOWDO/AMP]

"As global urbanization accelerates, informal settlements, especially in the cities of the Global South, will be where the majority of new urban citizens will live. The way these inhabitants construct their dwellings, or consume and produce resources like energy, food, water, information and manufactured goods will decide if we as a global society will succeed in transitioning towards sustainability and address existentialist threats such climate change, poverty or resource depletion."

"In the context of weak and poorly resourced states in the Global South, the impetus for transitioning has to come from within urban societies themselves. The studio investigate the potentials of bottom-up approaches towards collaborative production, consumption and learning. Based on the principle of low-threshold access and use, rather than capital investment, we will investigate urban workshops, makerspaces, hackerspaces or repair shops. This studio will reflect how can a new maker culture enable local communities and support user driven urban transformation processes and co-production of neighborhoods. Are there counter strategies to create urban futures that are accessible, inclusive and open source, especially for inhabitants of rapidly growing informal settlements? What could be a role for architects and planners?"

"Students of this studio will analyze the spatiality and architecture of existing makerspaces in global south and linked commodity flows, and develop programmatic and architectural proposals for these as part of a broader urban design and intervention strategy to enhance existing and generate new spatial interfaces between the city and makers, neighbors and global networks.We will collaborate closely with Prof. Michelle Christensen and Prof. Florian Conradi (Einstein Center Digital Future), both experts for critical making culture and open science, and a network of of local initiatives across cities such as Medellín, Accra, Lagos, Johannesburg or Amman as clients and collaborators to design strategic scenarios and proposals for infrastructural interventions to evolve them into a series of catalysts for grassroots-driven urban transitioning towards sustainability."

[pilot course] Open Design & Manufacturing — launching Spring 2020 at Penn State SEDTAPP

Open Design and Manufacturing pilot course for Penn State SEDTAPP. Co-developed with pioneering trailblazers: Elizabeth Andrezejewski (PhD Architecture), Alena Schwartz (Engineering Science), Edward Amoah (Computer Engineering). EDSGN 397. Spring 2020.

Open innovation and peer production are technology paradigms changing how we develop, launch and scale new businesses, products and services in the 21st-century.  Open platform models for internet-enabled collaboration — pioneered in open-source software and online wiki communities ­— are now transforming how people coordinate across time and space to design and make physical and digital things.

EDSGN397 «Open Design & Manufacturing» is a project-based course that presents open innovation and open source frameworks in software, hardware and machine design, design for open manufacturing, commons-based peer production, and how to leverage makerspace platforms to build future-oriented entrepreneurship ecosystems.

Course website: https://sites.psu.edu/hydroponicspsu/