West < > Africa Architecture Biennale


Festival / Biennial

West < > Africa Architecture Biennale

February 20, 2022 06:00 PM - July 31, 2022 10:00 PM

A3-Archnet Collaborative




The A3 – Archnet Collaborative for Documentation of Africa’s built heritage is elated to announce the first West < > Africa Architecture Biennale scheduled to hold from 20 February – 31 July, 2022.

The inaugural edition themed Endangered Heritage follows from our last held public panel on Friday 31 July 2020. West < >Africa Architecture Biennale is an international biennale organized by the A3-Archnet Collaborative to foster and grow an academic and professional community around the intellectual preservation of under researched, underexposed, and underrecognized architecture in Western Africa.

The biennale serves as a forum to collect and share documentation of obscure and lesser-known modes and styles of architectural heritage as formal objects, in addition to studies of the cultural factors that contribute to their non-canonical attributes and status.


Though West Africa serves as the regional hub for the works under study, the combination of these two words has separate identities under hegemonic binaries of progress and tradition, modern and vernacular, colonial and postcolonial.

When these words meet, they serve as the connection between the symbology and history of the West and Africa (“West”, “Africa”, “West Africa”) in both a continental and global context, to become the discursive basis for teasing out and dismantling what factors contribute to architecture of the West African cannon and subaltern architectures.


The West < >Africa Architecture Biennale will interrogate the criteria and processes that lead to the valorization of certain structures and architectural traditions over others. It also aims to collect documentation of architectural and urban planning projects in this regional hub.

Programming may include round tables, lectures, conferences, seminars, workshops, exhibitions, and other events. The biennale will also serve as the space to organize long term pedagogical workshops around how language, globalization, urbanization, environmental politics, material histories, construction methods, pedagogy, and architectural education affects what becomes in/visible, under/represented.

“This inaugural edition will be a journey of discovery through knowledge building activities such as: a public panel and workshops to investigate the issues that orchestrate what is seen; before terminating in a public exhibition that unmasks the hitherto underreported, under researched and under documented architectures in africa.”

Baba Oladeji & Michael Toler, PhD, Co-Directors, A3-Archnet Collaborative. Component events and venues will be announced in the coming days. We ask that you follow our social media pages and website/s to get more information. There will also be an open call for volunteers who can assist in staging this inaugural event.


The A3-Archnet Collaborative is a knowledge joint venture between A3: Archives of African Architectures and Aga Khan Documentation Center of the MIT Libraries that is committed to the documentation of African architecture.

In 2019, the collaborative received seed funding from MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) toward Digital Documentation of Nigeria’s Built Heritage. This project is being supported by the MIT Science and Technology Initiatives, AbdulJameel World Education Education Lab (J-WEL), PatrickWaheed Consultancy PWDC.



We will open the West < > Africa Architecture Biennale themed Endangered Heritage by aiming to understand and possibly address the exclusion of non-Western architectural building methods, styles, architects in mainstream global architectural lexicon.

We have a stellar lineup of speakers who are architects and educators with strong interests in activism, social, environmental and ecological justice. They are: Aziza Chaouni, David Aradeon and Mokena Makeka.

Aziza Chaouni, the Founding Principal of Aziza Chaouni Projects (ACP) was born and raised in Fez, Morocco. She trained both as a structural engineer and as an architect, with 14 years working experience in Morocco, France and the USA. Aziza graduated Cum Laude from Columbia University and with Distinction from Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Prior to creating ACP, Aziza co-founded and ran Bureau E.A.S.T. with partner Takako Tajima. Her work with her previous partner Takako Tajima, Bureau E.A.S.T, and with Aziza Chaouni Projects has won several top design Awards and Recognitions including the Holcim Gold Award for Sustainable Construction in 2009, and has been published and exhibited widely.

Aziza is also an Associate Professor at the Daniels School of Architecture Landscape and Design, where she leads the Designing Ecological Tourism lab. She is a member of the scientific committee of ICOMOS isc20c.

David Aradeon is a Professor of Architecture at the University of Lagos where he was Dean, Faculty of Environmental Design from 1984-86. He was also a Visiting Professor, Department of Architecture and Urbanism at the University of Sao Paulo, Sao Paulo, Brazil.

He graduated from Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture and Physical Planning GSAPP in 1966 where he received a Paris Prize Travelling Scholarship for the best Architectural Thesis in the US. Alongside his teaching at University of Lagos, he was Principal of Studio4 Associates with projects ranging from the masterplanning the Lagos State University to buildings for Lagos State College of Education.

He is a recipient of many grants, honours and awards including a Ford Foundation grant to study human settlements in West and North Africa. He was also bestowed with the Nigerian National Order of Merit award NNOM awarded in 2006. He is also a Co-founder and member of the Board of Trustees, Build With Earth, a non-governmental, non-profit organization to promote earth construction.

Mokena Makeka is a Principal in Dalberg Advisors. He is a South African raised in Maseru, Lesotho and New York, USA and is an accomplished architect, artist, creative, curator, global leader, scholar, speaker, urbanist. He holds a B.Arch Dist. Hons, ( Magna Cum Laude) University of Cape Town (UCT), and various executive leadership qualifications, from the Harvard Kennedy School, Oxford University and others.

He is currently the Azrieli Visiting Critic of 2020, Carleton University School of architecture and urbanism- Canada, Adjunct Professor Cooper Union- New York, and is a Board member of the South African Green Building Council and is a board member of the Cape Town Central City Improvement district.

He is a Young Global leader at the World Economic Forum 2015 and is a member of the WCS Young leaders in urbanism. (Singapore). He is an Aspen Fellow in leadership 2020. He is at the forefront of thinking on contemporary inclusive African Cities, and is focused on ecological and socio-economic justice.

Mokena has extensive experience of chairing, founding and serving on boards across the creative sector and built environment and some of these roles include the South African Heritage Agency, the Cultural and Creative Industries Federation of South Africa, Cape Town Heritage Trust, the Isandla Institute (ex-chairman of the board) and Bush Radio Station.

(ex-chairman of the board), Cape Africa Platform (ex-chairman of the board). He served as national strategic advisor to the Minister of Human Settlements, South Africa, and on the national council for arts and culture.

According to the Curators, Baba Oladeji & Michael Toler, PhD, "we have chosen 20 February 2022 which is the UN World Day of Social Justice to open this Biennale as a pointer to the task of including other architectures on this path to justice.