Convention Hotel / Convention Center / IT Office park Kigali. Foto: Gunhild Brandhoff

Landscape architecture eXport: Africa

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In the new edition of our Landscape Architecture eXport event series, we will be devoting ourselves to the continent of Africa (20 July, 6:30 p.m. at the Vorhoelzer Forum Munich).

Dorothée Hock of sichtfeld Landschaftsarchitektur from Frankfurt/Asbach will report on the Wolkite University Campus Masterplan project (Ethiopia). Gunhild Brandhoff of Brandhoff Voß Landschaftsarchitekten bdla from Munich will present the project Convention Hotel Convention Center IT-Office-Park Kigali (Rwanda).

We have already talked to the two speakers in advance about their professional and personal experiences on site.

The question may sound heretical, but: doesn't Africa have more pressing problems than landscape architecture?

Dorothée Hock: Development lag and population growth in rural areas pose major problems for Ethiopia. A regional development plan is intended to improve living conditions in rural areas - part of this development plan is also the establishment of new universities or colleges. The Wolkite University Campus is intended to be a place of residence and work for up to 50,000 students and teachers, so we are planning a small city. We are committed to developing structures that are as resource-friendly and durable as possible, from compact construction and good pedestrian access to the use of (rain) water. In this sense, we are working precisely on one of Africa's core problems.

Gunhild Brandhoff: As strange as it may sound with such a high-profile project including a 5* hotel: one should never forget the effect on the inside and outside. The Convention Center/Hotel and the IT-Office-Park have generated international attention, which a country like Rwanda can urgently use. Of course, this is always a balancing act - such lighthouse projects have little to do with the reality of life for the majority of the population - except that they serve as a visible sign to everyone that Rwanda, with its difficult recent past, is moving forward. In order to increase acceptance, the architecture and landscape architecture was oriented towards typical Rwandan models in its formal language and materiality.

What was the most unexpected experience for you in your work on the "black" continent?

Gunhild Brandhoff: We were surprised to see that the implementation and construction of the project was to be carried out according to European standards and by foreign companies and with foreign products. However, this is partly due to the fact that building materials or services are not (yet) available in Rwanda and must necessarily be imported.

Dorothée Hock: An unexpectedly memorable experience for me was the simultaneity of the different (technical) stages of development that we in Europe have gone through within decades, but which compress and overlap in Ethiopia: mobile phones are a natural part of everyday life (at least in all the places we visited), but reliable water supply from the public network is not.

And what did you take away for yourself that you would not otherwise have experienced or learned in this life?

Dorothée Hock: A great appreciation of the freedoms and securities we are allowed to enjoy in Europe - and of which we are often so little aware. Starting with the possibility to move freely almost everywhere - even alone, even as a woman...
And admiration for the creativity and energy with which solutions are found, very concretely, just for now and here, for exactly this situation and group; admiration for how much can become possible in such a small way.

Gunhild Brandhoff: Planning in an African country was a great opportunity and a challenge for our office. Experiencing Rwanda twice on the spot with its scenically wonderful "Thousand Hills" and the friendly, open, colourful and helpful local people was simply unique. But getting to know them better also brought insights into all the changes brought about by foreign investors - both positive and negative...

Landscape Architecture eXport on Friday, July 20, 2018 at 6:30 p.m. kicks off the bdla Bayern summer festival.
Registration by 16 July 2018 to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. is required.

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