Saturday, December 22, 2012

Building Ghana's maker culture

#bcaccra breakout session
We're about to do a breakout session at Barcamp Accra on "Building Ghana's maker movement" @annawab @gamelmag @dkoa

More background, start here:
Maker Faire Africa: to be a maker is not a day job
Instructables: share what you make
MAKE Magazine: DIY projects
Makeshift Magazine: a journal of hidden creativity
Fab Lab: at Takoradi Technical Institute
D-Lab: Development through dialogue, design and dissemination
Makerbot: 3d printing

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Dimensonal accuracy

If you remember high school science class, you remember the constraints of accuracy. Precision is much more profligate (case in point: UCBerkeley) than accuracy.

Sometimes, that can constitute up to 50% or more of miscommunication.

Friday, November 16, 2012

Lome to Cotonou

When I went to Maker Faire Africa, I wanted to better understand the Abidjan-Lagos corridor (part of the Trans–West African Coastal Highway which I had previously studied as part of the Tema research. Here are shots from the road via Togo and Benin. Having never before seen in-between Lome and Lagos, the scenic route was well worth it. Especially when set to Francophone radio soundtrack (try Africa No. 1 Lomé, Togo).

And here is World Bank perspective on ECOWAS highway infrastructure (2011):
Traffic along the key regional corridors is moderate to heavy in both cases; with the most heavily used routes typically those in poorest condition. The regional corridors almost always carry at least 300 vehicles per day along most of their length, and more than 1,000 vehicles per day on at least 20 percent of their length (table 2.2, figure 2.1b, figure 2.2b). Overall, the most heavily used corridors are the two gateways into Burkina Faso, and the Cotonou-to-Niamey route. Ironically, these are also some of the corridors in the worst physical condition. The Dakar-to-Bamako route is one of the most lightly used, perhaps reflecting the existence of a parallel rail corridor; although the Abidjan-to-Ouagadougou route is used intensively, despite the existence of the rail alternative. Otherwise, the portions of the corridors falling in the coastal countries tend to be the most heavily used, almost always attracting in excess of 1,000 vehicles per day. Nevertheless, in absolute terms, such traffic levels can be considered no more than moderate. After all, 300 vehicles per day is the minimum traffic threshold required for paving to be economically viable. And none of the corridors exceed the threshold of 10,000 vehicles per day needed for toll road concessions to be economically viable. 
The cost of moving goods along each of these key arteries is a key constituent of competitiveness for both international and intraregional trade. These costs break down into three components: the travel costs of moving goods, determined by road and rail freight tariffs; the administrative costs of moving goods across borders and through ports, determined by associated service charges; and the costs of time delays incurred by waiting at roadblocks, border crossings, and ports. The competitiveness of the different corridors can be gauged by aggregating transport, administrative, and waiting costs incurred along the route.
Abidjan-Lagos corridor

Thursday, November 15, 2012

This is an interesting idea: an upgraded version of crowdsourced product design. One part corporate design exploitation and lots of parts open-air design idea emporium. Makes sense once you factor in the retail partners:

Seems like designers in Ghana could easily do something similar, using social media and some of the larger distribution networks in retail.

Once plastic is involved, there are unlimited possibilities:

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

SAINT VAL Laurent / proposed Haiti housing

proposed Haiti housing
Cool project by SAINT VAL Laurent, Architetto

Reminds me of Sejima's small house but really should harvest/process rain water + while compression joints are interesting, way too many connections per structure. It's bamboo -- just lash it.
When I recall where I just saw this, will add via

Monday, November 12, 2012

Maker Faire Africa

Cool design projects by youth related to architecture and building tech. Things I liked at Maker Faire in Ikeja, Lagos - Nov. 5-6, 2012. More pics on my Flickr.

kids love latex gloves!

recycled plastic tile

urine-powered generator

custom steering wheel sans stereo

pressure-sensor alarm

Nigerian dream house

sawdust gasifier

wiring for home-made inverter

ground floor plan

this dream house... electrified!

model a 3d market

students at make future lagos model

bike hack

Friday, October 26, 2012

How to make a bamboo dumpster

Here's a design for a simple bamboo dumpster that a carpenter and assistant can build in a day. Scale down by 50% to build in a half day; or if limited experience with bamboo and/or using a cutlass. Designed and built in Anam, Nigeria.

Bamboo dumpster in Ebenebe (photo: Stacy Passmore)

Friday, October 12, 2012

Ebenebe, Anam

SDC14778 by SoCA
SDC14778, a photo by SoCA on Flickr.

Some of my favorite architecture.

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

New growth

Anam City at CGI 2012

Clinton Global Initiative
Executive Director of the Chife Foundation, Mrs. Gesare Chife stands next to President Bill Clinton, at commitment announcement Women and Built Environment panel, Clinton Global Initiative - Sep 24, 2012.

Congratulations to Anamites and everyone supporting the Anam City project! @anamcity

Monday, September 17, 2012

E-volo multicopter

Flight test of Volocopter VC1 in Germany, October 2011.

Lunar Landing Research Vehicle (LLRV)

Flight test c.1964-65.

via @elisabethhassLunar Landing Research Vehicle 

Berekuso club

view from summit
View from Berekuso, opposite Ashesi University. (Will post design/updates on the hill station soon, when we push new website to

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Monday, August 20, 2012

Saturday, May 5, 2012

House for sale

Aguileri, Anambra State, Nigeria

Making architecture

Architecture is obsolete; the future is fabrication.

Since architects began to call themselves architects – before that, they were builders – they have sought to leverage drawings as instruments of service, in practice making pieces of paper produce the contractual terms for making a living by making lifestyles legible.

Fast forward to today: while movie and recording studios try to contain 'piracy,' newspapers and magazines battle 'aggregation,' fashion houses contest counterfeits, corporations protect their right to copyright and the West deflects the rise of 'the rest,' architects seek to keep the sanctity of their sect intact.

Design will always be in the details. But if in the past (when media was printed) data could be regulated, conversely in the present network culture dispersal of information decentralizes power and dissolves control. Suddenly a few individuals and many machines can outmatch the capacity of the State; case in point: the greater the number of distinct copies of Wikileak's insurance file that enter into simultaneous existence, the more difficult that file's secure contents become to lock down. As the digital real-time of the social web replaces the telephone call and the email forward, the spread of information is fast emerging as the new gravity, if not the new speed of light.

The globe today is a technological village compared to the mega- (meta-) urbanism of human society to come. That is to say, human beings are (voluntarily) networking themselves digitally at an ever-increasing rate. While planetary space is constant, social material is not. Given that technology is part of society, we can anticipate two main trajectories for the future production of space: (1) Mass Produced: The machine envelops man and the city; and (2) Custom Fabricated: Man hacks the machine.

In the first scenario, the masses follow the mass produced (think consumers falling constantly for the latest Apple). In the second, an individual cooperates with other individuals to re-appropriate function (using Youtube tutorials to jailbreak an iphone).

From a certain vantage point, the danger in deciding that the drawing embodies the sum total of design's power is that it overlooks the power of production. More specifically, the fetishization of the image is what led to architect's self-imposed exile from everyday relevancy and left a vacuum filled by a geography of McMansions, spec condos and urban stratification. That was then.

Now design needs to focus less on being cool, and more on heat. Reset to think globally, act locally. Designers need to remember that the power of design is in making. Give people the power of production: new possibilities through collaboration trumps incestuous discourse and new for the sake of novelty alone. In the post-bubble world, the only way to be radical is to build.


[This text was originally intended for Thresholds 40 Socio, but never finished (although excerpts accompanied three farmhouses by LOWDO in the exhibit 2084 at Brooklyn's Cameo Gallery). Part of the same thought process that started on this blog and led to LOWDODSGN AGNC and current work on Anam City. More recently: urban O/S and public hacking.]
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