Shared Heritage Africa (SHA)

Uta Pottgiesser 21. Juni 2022

The documentation of buildings and sites tells a lot about the nature of the relationship between culture, society, and politics. The project Shared Heritage Africa (2021-23) will focus on the documentary rediscovery of modern university campuses from the 1950-1970s as examples of cultural landscapes from the period of independence from colonial rule (Ghana 1957, Nigeria 1960 and Uganda 1962), and is of great significance. The rediscovery of this heritage will concentrate on the exploration of the values, challenges and opportunities through the eyes of their contemporary users. All case studies were built in the postwar decades (1950s-70s) and a comparative analysis reveals contrasting and complementary aspects. The paper highlights the combination of local workshops, including student writing and photography workshops, exhibitions and ‘Digital Fellowships’ using the Internet for dissemination. Exploratory interviews and narratives will be used to collect testimonies of contemporary users.

Aspects discussed are, among others, the physical; deterioration (technical, functional, social), the cosmological; through the sense of identity, community, place attachment, maintenance and taking care, ownership and appropriation, and the environmental; considering the quality, and sustainability of spaces, and also conditions of comfort and satisfaction. The method is still in development, but preliminary conclusions can be sketched.

The written, visual and digital documentation of built cultural heritage of Africa is a prerequisite for a sustainable urban and social development. The approach builds upon African and international DOCOMOMO initiatives and identifies students and young professionals as important target groups to develop social, cultural and political awareness and further participatory tools.  

This work is supported by the Federal Funds of the Federal Foreign Office of Germany (BfAA) by a funding for the project “Shared Heritage Africa. Rediscovering Masterpieces” from 10/2021 until 09/2023 (AZ99210073). The project is coordinated by DOCOMOMO Deutschland e.V. in cooperation with Architectuul (Estonia), photographer Jean Molitor (Germany), Liverpool School of Architecture (UK), University of Lagos, Centre for Housing and Sustainable Development (CHSD) (Nigeria), DOCOMOMO Ghana (Accra Chapter), Uganda Martyrs University (UMU) and DOCOMOMO International (NL).

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