THE HADUWA APATA In Ghana, more and more young artists are moving from product-focused to dialogical forms of art. In the course of this movement, new working modes and new networks are evolving, and alternative spaces of artistic production and (re)presentation are being requested. How can these forms of cultural practice be housed? How can these claims be translated into a territorial setting or spatial envelope? When [a]FA was invited to work on a master plan for the overall program of the Haduwa Arts and Culture Institute, the first critical question was: How could a future institution for performing arts stay alive and best promote itself in its first phase? It was assumed that in the specific situation of Haduwa´s remote location, the conception, design, and construction of a stage as attractor would be the answer for a first, innocent, and at the same time, fully prominent gesture. We were interested in starting the project from the scale of the (performing) body, not from an architectural scale. Against this backdrop, an [a]FA team of students of architecture, landscaping, and social design collaborated with students of the performing arts who had formed the Lab DC at the University of Ghana in Legon, Accra. The design process evolved from the insights gained through the body space experiences and started with a diagrammatic series of potential spatial organizations of staging(s) which encompasses different relationships between the performing artists and their audiences. A multifunctional staging ground has been designed in which each performance and gathering can be positioned in a unique way. The resulting project is a floorscape and roofscape located at the seafront borderline of the Haduwa site. In dialogue with the floorscape, the roofscape also adapts to the given topography, rather than being shut off from its surroundings. The Apata(1) is a giant bamboo dome with three open arches facing in different directions—a grid-shell consisting solely of bamboo. The type of reactive space that was created epitomizes an alternative to total social and aesthetic control: an unfamiliar piece of bamboo architecture, which is difficult to categorize, as it is not a “proper” building, but is also not just a secondary landscape. The evolutionary process from body space, to bamboo building, to the textile arts has been the subject of navigation between artistic fields and scales. The resulting architecture speaks for itself and to its users, and the process of becoming is therein inscribed. `Apata´ is an Akan word which alludes to “shed” or “shelter” or “hut”. It speaks to a space (communal or home) whose meaning is deepened by the relations inherent within it. It could also be a space intended for rest.
3 word address features
ghana, bamboo, performing arts space
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