Across the global south, the pace of development is happening at astonishing speed, in part because of ‘leapfrogging.’ In the global north, legacy infrastructure resists innovation in favor of iterative change, but where limited legacy systems exist, entirely new solutions are being prototyped and scaled. By 2050 the African population will double, matching the current size of India and China combined. Fred Swaniker, a leading voice in higher education on the continent, suggests that to accommodate this growth new colleges would have to be created every week.
In the late 1950’s a minuscule few, 8,000 Africans, went abroad for higher education and became the vanguard of independence movements across the continent. Following independence, a boom in the 1970s saw accelerated expansion of opportunity and the building of universities that embodied modernist ideals. Today there are 20 million students in university on the continent, a radical increase for sure, and yet only 8% of secondary school graduates go on to college. This is compared to 24% in India and up to 70% in the U.S.
But new models of education are emerging, which are sophisticated and go beyond the simplistic notion that technology and MOOCs are the solution. They are preparing students for tomorrow’s world and for jobs that don’t exist. They are creating engaging learning experiences that are both physical and digital. The future of college may very well be found in Africa.
And yet the architecture to catalyze and amplify these ideas has not yet been considered. What will it be like and how will these new campuses transform the landscape of not only education, but of the cities in which they reside? And how will they be built? The African context reveals that the opportunity for disruption is as great in reconsidering the role of the architect in the process of building, binding notions of form, function, and fabrication.
Site / Trip: Rwanda – Depart Feb 10/11 - Return flight Feb 16/17
Tentative trip components:
● Students will see three university projects that will be in various phases of design and under construction while visiting Rwanda and the MASS office. ● They will spend a day observing African Leadership University (led by Fred Swaniker) and other potential case studies. ● They will participate in a workshop with the African Design Centre, a 2-year post-graduate fellowship, that has 10 fellows from across the continent. ● Additionally, they will spend a day working on the fellows’ design-build project where they will be about halfway through the completion of a new primary school. ● Other site visits will include to the national genocide memorial and other MASS projects. ● And the option to have a day either visiting the gorillas in Virunga National Park or the Akagera national game park.
Program: 15,000m2 academic campus for 1,000 students and including student housing for 25% of the students.