Upcoming Events

History Designing Architecture: Performance and Architecture in Africa & its Diaspora

Research Seminar – Adedoyin Teriba, Rixt Woudstra

  • 17 May 2023
  • 5:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Architecture Summer Series

    A series of talks and discussions showcasing new research and approaches to thinking about buildings, cities, and landscapes in Britain and elsewhere.
  • Paul Mellon Centre and Online

A king dancing, playing music to the accompaniment of the poetry of his palace in order to construct a new one in late twentieth-century Southwest Nigeria. Songs sung and danced to, to commemorate artists and architects in the same region – a tradition that is at least three hundred years old. Peter Adjaye, a composer, ethnomusicologist and disc jockey collaborating with his brother, Sir David Adjaye over two decades, by composing soundtracks of David’s buildings. All these cases are some instances in West Africa and in the African diaspora where the craft of creating history, the built environment and performance have been treated as a holistic unity.

Another common thread running through these scenarios is the way that all the architects have a keen sense that there is no distinction between the past and the present; each architect enlarges and contributes to multidisciplinary traditions of place making.

This presentation will explore the ways in which this type of place making has remained a vital force in how certain buildings are erected amongst people of African descent in West Africa and its diaspora – providing a nuanced contrast to the inductive way of architectural design that dominates the field of architecture in many parts of the world.

Respondent: Rixt Woudstra

A Research Seminar Series co-organised with Rixt Woudstra (Assistant Professor in Architectural History, University of Amsterdam).

About the speakers

  • Adedoyin Teriba headshot

    Adedoyin Teriba specialises in modern and contemporary architecture and urbanism focusing particularly on such traditions in West Africa and its diasporas. Teriba's teaching and scholarship investigate the ways in which folklore, orality, language, art, dance and music are used as tools historically and presently – to generate an architecture that creates a sense of place. Teriba is also interested in the ways that performance-based ways of creating architecture have been a staple of architectural design in parts of Africa and its diasporas for the last two hundred years or more.

    At Dartmouth, Teriba teaches topics on modern and contemporary architecture that include the idea of architecture and urban spaces as mysterious entities; the intersection between architecture, place and identity; the connection between industrial design and architecture; and courses on modern and contemporary architecture in various regions and nations in Africa.

    His most recent publications are “Architecture, Freedom and Professional Societies in Brazil in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries: A Prolegomena”, in 3rd Text Africa, (Edition on Africa/Brazil, no. 13, 2023), “Orality and Permanence: Restoring a Gbongan Palace Through Spoken Architectural History”, Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians 80, no. 3, 2021, and “Style, Race and Architecture of a Mosque of the Òyìnbó Dúdú (White-Black) in Lagos Colony, 1894”, in Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present (Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press, 2020).

  • Rixt Woudstra

    Rixt Woudstra is an assistant professor in architectural history at the University of Amsterdam, where she co-directs the Amsterdam Centre for Urban History. She is an historian of modern architecture, with a specific interest in architectural design and planning in the British Empire and the global circulation of architectural knowledge and building materials. Before her appointment in Amsterdam, she taught at Northeastern University in London and worked as a Leverhulme-funded postdoctoral research associate at the University of Liverpool. She completed her PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

    Her work has appeared in Architectural Histories, Thresholds and Architectural Theory Review and she is currently working on her first book, tentatively titled Designing Stability: Modern Housing in “British” Africa, 1945–1957. A co-authored monograph, The United Africa Company: Mercantile Architecture and the West African City, is to be published by Bloomsbury Academic in 2024. Her work has been supported by fellowships and awards from the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art, the American Council of Learned Societies, the Social Science Research Council, Harvard University’s Center for European Studies and the MIT Africa-Program.