Sunday, 21 November 2010

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

The context of grand projects

The most recent grand project in Africa was the 2010 FIFA World Cup and that had its detractors. Many who thought the billions spent on hosting the jamboree could have been better spent on development and poverty alleviation projects.

In some ways, there is feeling that grand projects should be sited anywhere else but Africa until it develops to a certain standard of living before it gratifies itself with something big.

Apart from a major art commission in Senegal, the issue of the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro [1] in Cote d’Ivoire was discussed, this was at one time in the Guinness World Records the world’s largest church.

In context, the Catholics of Cote d’Ivoire are quite proud of this church as theirs in Africa and it was consecrated by Pope John Paul II in 1990.

For the masses and for excellence

As we discussed this, it reminded me of Oprah Winfrey Lady’s Academy for Girls [2] (OWLAG) in South Africa where the American media mogul had sunk $40 million of her own money to create an institution of educational excellence.

Many thought it would have been better for her to create 40 $1m schools instead but I offered the argument that it the job of governments to build schools for the populace and if Ms Winfrey were to spread resources thin in this manner, she would who have to rely on already failing governments to manage and run those schools.

OWLAG as a beacon of educational excellence can serve as a standard of what is achievable just as grand projects that foster pockets of development and create aspirations to raising the standards of living and quality all around Africa.

The springboard of grand projects

Whilst sadly the Maison Tropicale prototypes did not get rolled out to the 10,000 units originally planned they could have provided an upward review of traditional architectural practices and the ease of dismantling the structures could have made for easier provision of housing.

Unfortunately, those were lessons we failed to learn but 33 years after the event in the Nigeria, the villages built [3] for the 2nd Black Festival of Arts and Culture (FESTAC ‘77) represent one of the largest housing projects ever embarked upon in Africa.

Sources

[1] Basilica of Our Lady of Peace of Yamoussoukro - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

[2] Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls [akin.blog-city.com]

[3] Festac Town - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

La Maison Tropicale Series

Maison Tropicale film in Amsterdam

Deconstructing Maison Tropicale - Introduction

Maison Tropicale - Ownership

Maison Tropicale - Heritage

Maison Tropicale - Corrupt enterprise

Maison Tropicale - Grand Projects

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