Kampala on a Global Stage: Doreen Adengo’s Cross-Disciplinary Legacy
Doreen Adengo, Ugandan architect and trailblazer, handed away on July the 22nd of this 12 months, after battling a long-term sickness. She based Adengo Structure in 2005, a studio based mostly out of her residence metropolis of Kampala. A designer who studied in america, labored in companies in New York, Washington, and London, and was instructing at Uganda Martyrs College – her legacy is nothing wanting extraordinary. It’s a legacy that spans disciplines and geographies – however a legacy, too, that’s deeply rooted within the context of Africa, Uganda, and Kampala.
As an architectural agency, Adengo Structure is comparatively younger, having been based in 2015. Regardless of this youth, their ethos is obvious, Adengo stating in an interview final 12 months that they’re “centered on speaking the worth of design in African cities.” How this has been translated into structure is thru a variety of architectural explorations, starting from repurposing a transport container in a truck right into a cellular medical clinic to housing initiatives which have sought to take full benefit of their web site’s topography.
The mixed-use “L-Constructing,” with its design initiated in 2018, straight references its quick context. Its location in shut proximity to the Uganda Clays Manufacturing unit implies that clay bricks might be domestically soured. One other housing undertaking – “Inexpensive Housing II” – creates a low-rise residence advanced, with perforated screens and permeable paving responding to Kampala’s tropical rainforest local weather.
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However the place Doreen Adengo’s legacy arguably shines brightest is within the work that she did adjoining to designing buildings. Doreen Adengo, as lecturer, facilitator, and curator, constructed quite a few workshops that analyzed and deconstructed Kampala’s city character and architectural heritage.
Within the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, Adengo facilitated a workshop as a part of the Global Urbanism Studio 2020 that centered on Nakasero Market, one of many greatest in Kampala’s central enterprise district. College students from Uganda Martyrs College and Washington College in St. Louis noticed and documented Nakasero Market’s response to authorities pointers because of the pandemic, and experimented with approaches that might see market distributors having the ability to conduct their enterprise in a extra versatile method.
As conservation architect for the Ernst Might-designed Uganda Museum, Adengo convened a workshop that introduced collectively numerous practitioners to debate the significance of conservation. Along with younger architects and museum professionals, this workshop additionally noticed an viewers of officers from each the Kampala Capital Metropolis Authority and the Ministry of Tourism. Removed from working towards in a bubble, Adengo seemed to domesticate cross-disciplinary conversations on architectural heritage, and set up connections between younger practitioners who’ve grown up and stay in a rapidly-changing Kampala, and the town authority professionals which have the institutional energy to enact lasting change.
One other workshop – in collaboration with Manuel Herz who wrote African Modernism – The Structure of Independence – used Kampala as a pictures web site, with members photographing Kampala’s Modernist structure whereas inspecting their modern context. Photographers like Timothy Latim documented Modernist buildings such because the dormitory halls of Makerere College, one in all which might be the main target of Doreen Adengo’s analysis undertaking as a part of an initiative on centering postcolonial views on structure.
This analysis demonstrated Adengo’s strengths as a practitioner comfortably cognizant of how the structure of the previous evolves into its current context. Narrowing in on the Brutalist Mary Stuart Corridor of Makerere College, Adengo charted the fabric historical past of a dormitory corridor that fell into troublesome instances throughout the Seventies, and which in current day is a web site of casual adaptive reuse, the place previously social areas have develop into transformed into lecture and school rooms.
On the house web page of the Adengo Structure web site, clicking on the “studio” tab ends in a drop-down checklist of choices, together with podcasts, movies, and articles. A type of choices is pretty unusual on the location of an architectural agency – “strolling excursions”. That is the place the studio workforce provides excursions of Kampala’s Central Enterprise District, Makerere College, and Kampala’s Industrial Space.
And that’s the embodiment of Doreen Adengo’s legacy – always in dialog with folks about structure, the place structure goes past constructing into advocacy and public programming, the place Kampala’s dynamic constructed surroundings takes heart stage.