Please join us on October 16 at 1:00pm (Adam House Lecture Theatre, Adam House, 3 Chambers Street) for Killian Doherty’s research seminar “Extracts from a West African Utopia.”
In the early 1960s a Swedish mining company began building a settlement in northern Liberia to accommodate workers at a nearby iron ore mine. Within only a few years this housing programme had transformed into a fully functioning town called Yekepa. Built along Scandinavian lines but located in the remote highlands of Liberia, Yekepa soon became a symbol of the utopian promises attached to the West’s investment in the natural resources of a developing nation. But as the iron-ore reserves became depleted, Yekepa fell into disrepair, a ghost town haunted by the memories of past prosperity. Now partly repopulated by workers of another mining firm, Yekepa has returned to life, but its fortunes are starkly dependent on the price of iron-ore on the world market. Introducing short extracts from the completed film ‘Uppland’ (to be screeened at a later date) Killian Doherty will discuss the project and what the architecture of the town says about the complex relationship between extractive industries and the mineral-rich developing world.
Killian Doherty practices in Sierra Leone, Liberia, and Rwanda. Over the past eight years, through ‘Architectural Field Office’ he has been interested in the dissonance between ‘development’ policies and non-western built environments. His architectural work, teachings and research have been exhibited at the ICA, the Venice Biennale and appear in several publications including Japan Architecture + Urbanism (JA+U), Architectural Review, MAS Context, Footprint: Delft Architecture Theory Journal, VOLUME and Afritecture: Building Social Change. Killian is completing his PhD by Design at the Bartlett School of Architecture (UCL) and is Lecturer of Architecture and Urbanism at ESALA.