Recent Graduates

INTERNATIONAL PROJECT RESIDENCY: Call For Arts & Design Professionals in Ghana

Mail AttachmentGhana: Nka Foundation announces a call for project submissions from designers, architects, artists, and schools for its International Project Residency for a concentrated period of time from 1 to 6 months. In rural Ghana, the foundation runs Sang and Abetenim Arts Village, which are living learning centers that invite persons from around the world to immerse in local culture and put their practice to the test through projects in the arts and rural architecture. Vacationers, student interns, recent graduates and professionals are all welcome to our arts village.

Our village provides a unique opportunity for students to learn by doing on our current project or use their initiative to propose and complete own project to translate theories learnt in classrooms to practice. For the professionals, you will find the hands-on project and full-on experience with local culture a pause from your office/studio work to rediscover the rudiments of design and artistic nuances that can refresh your practice.

Individuals and project teams interested in participating in the program should e-mail to / for application. No application fee required. Inquiries for organizational and education partnerships are welcome. See our photostream on Flickr:, and


Progress Report 10X10  SHELTER CHALLENGE

(How to Reinvent Vernacular African Mud Hut)

The design-build team of Karolina and Wayne of Atelier Switzer has completed a 10×10 Shelter Challenge at Abetenim Arts Village in the Ashanti Region of Ghana.The 10×10 Shelter Challenge is a hands-on, design experience focused on learning-by-doing in African architecture that is run by Nka Foundation till October 2013.The challenge is to design and build a learning shelter that measures 10 feet by 10 feet in a location outside of the Western culture, most precisely deep in the village in Ghana, where the convenience of development has not reached.  The goal of the shelter is to suggest a relationship between art and architecture by maximum use of local materials.

Karolina and Wayne of Atelier Switzer are both architects with about 8 years of experience in Europe and the United States.They, along with 5 builders, had 6 weeks to conduct the site analysis, design and construct their proposal which consisted of a pavilion that made use of corrugated zinc roofing over rammed earthen walls.  Here are photos from the just concluded project stay at Abetenim from September 7 to October 17, 2012.

Here is one of their progress reports from the site:

“…We are happy to report that construction is underway on the workshop and that the team here is working well together to make this project a collaborative one.  The first few days were spent observing the local earth-building methods and the condition of these structures- including the projects of past Abetenim Arts Village residents.We finally settled on constructing a rammed earthen building which would feature in essence two rooms: an “indoor” room and “outdoor area” for conducting classes- both of which would be sheltered beneath a large shed roof.Our site is a clearing adjacent to a sprawling mango tree, and visible from the road leading into the Arts Village.

Several reasons led us to pursue the rammed earth construction method.  Practically speaking, the local soil is an ideal mix of sand, clay and gravel, as well as being readily available.  The method of formwork and casting the earth is also a skill that is easily learned by almost any builder.  With a proper foundation and roof overhang, the earthen walls should prove to be very durable and serve as an example for the village that an earthen building can be both contemporary and withstand the natural elements over time.  Finally, we were inspired by the daily sight of residents using a large pole to pound fufu (the cassava diet staple).  This pounding is exactly the same method used to ram the fresh soil into the forms… which has led to our project being dubbed â€œobruni fufu” (white man’s fufu) by the local builders.”

Project Details:
Gross Area: 140 sf
Total Area (footprint): 496 sf
Project Cost: 6,500 Cedi (equivalent $3,500 USD)
Construction Duration: 5 weeks

The rural design-build challenge proffers a change in the way the young creative practitioners think about their work in our interconnected world.  As the participant, your ability to generate a locally responsive design concept is only one aspect of the site-based design challenge.  Unless your team is many in number, you must find a way to engage the community throughout the construction process.

One of the primary challenges you will face is to effectively communicate your idea to the community. Keep in mind that this is a multi-faceted obstacle, for instance:

  1. Unless you speak the local dialect of Twi, you will be dependant upon the community coordinator to interpret your intentions. This can be taxing for both the designer and the coordinator.  Local builders also have little to no experience with drawings.  You should plan in advance how best to illustrate your project to enable the local builders bring their gifts to the project. Simply stated, learning to deal well with the cultural and linguistic differences will turn what seems a difficult task into a most rewarding experience for everyone.
  2. There is a stigma associated with mud architecture, and the community is likely to resist any attempt to utilize it.  The sentiment is that mud buildings are only for the very poor and impoverished. However, their belief is not ungrounded. The local community has many examples of cob constructions which have eroded over time due to poor construction and water damage.
  3. As in most developing areas, the people of Abetenim will likely prioritize earning a daily wage over volunteering for you project. Your challenge will be to negotiate a wage that is fair to everyone involved, at the same time encouraging the community to view this project as one beneficial for themselves.  Expectations for typical wage rates can vary greatly depending on the person involved.

The Abetenim project site is a rural flat land.  The top soil is red earth mixed with gravel that is right for cob construction or the rammed earth method.  The nearby forests provide lumber for house roofing for a population of about 500 peasant farmers, small scale traders and craft persons.  The site-based 10×10 Shelter Challenge is open to all students and graduates of design, architecture, art, engineering and school teams interested in rural projects in Africa. For the local community, the realized space, as the design team of Karolina and Wayne of Atelier Switzer puts it, thus serves as an “example for the village that an earthen building can be both contemporary and withstand the natural elements over time”.  For students, the design-build challenge is a unique opportunity to learn hands-on the intricacies of working with vernacular constraints of economy, material and social dimensions in a real-life project aiming to sustain social harmony through art and architecture.  In the process, the student will to learn to design what is build-able to make a well rounded graduate.  For the professionals, you will find the hands-on design and construction experience a pause from your office work stress to rediscover the rudiments of architecture and nuances that can refresh your practice.

The 10×10 Shelter Challenge will run till October 2013 involving the following sessions: February 10-March 10, 2013; May 1-30, 2013; July 7-August 7, 2013; and October 3-31, 2013. Join us!  Show the world how to re-invent the vernacular African mud hut!  See press release on the 10×10 Shelter Challenge at and Enquiries  /

Values of Environmental Writing – Welcome

This post comes to you from EcoArtScotland

There are at least three research networks looking at environmental and cultural issues currently meeting in programmes of workshops.

CORE, the research network on Creative Research and the Environment, was launched last week in the Art Space Nature rooms at Edinburgh College of Art.  This network spans fine art and landscape architecture and is linked with a larger research project on Antarctic Earth Sciences. Post on launch.

Reflecting on Environmental Change through Site Based Performance held its second meeting in Glasgow a couple of weeks ago.  Post of notes from that meeting.

Values of Environmental Writing Research Network takes its cue from Robert Macfarlane’s 2009 comment, “Many of the new activists are young, and a significant number are recent graduates, emerging from universities across Britain and moving immediately into environmental action.  It would be fascinating to know what literary works have shaped the message and medium of their politics…”

ecoartscotland is a resource focused on art and ecology for artists, curators, critics, commissioners as well as scientists and policy makers. It includes ecoartscotland papers, a mix of discussions of works by artists and critical theoretical texts, and serves as a curatorial platform.

It has been established by Chris Fremantle, producer and research associate with On The Edge Research, Gray’s School of Art, The Robert Gordon University. Fremantle is a member of a number of international networks of artists, curators and others focused on art and ecology.

Go to EcoArtScotland

utopia project 2010: info

“Utopia project” is an annual summer workshop organized by the Athens School of Fine Arts in Rethymno Crete.”

Athens School of Fine Arts


V. Vlastaras, artist, Lecturer, ASFA and M. Glyka, visual artist, teacher BA & MA Vakalo college of Art and Design.

Basic timetable:

4 July: arrivals

5 July – 7 July: artists presentations

8 – 20 July: preparation of the work

21-23 July: show and presentations of final works

24 July: end of show – departures

Number of participants: 14

In collaboration with:

Mr. Gary Woodley, artist and lecturer at the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.

Mr. Klaas Hoek, artist, head of the postgraduate department of University of Utrecht and head of the printmaking of the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL.

This year project:


Based on H.D. Thoreau’s “Walden


General Information


Athens School of Fine Arts offers an annual summer residency program under the title Utopia Project for postgraduate or recent graduates artists who intend to collaborate with experienced artists, theorists and political scientists in order to explore, under a different every year theme, artistic practices and theoretical approaches in the contemporary society.

Participants join the project in workshops, lectures, group and individual tutorials and critiques and leave the residency with input on new project plans organized accordingly each year’s theme. Artists attend the program to get a creative surge, get a fresh perspective on their work, revitalize their practice, take their work in a new direction, make plans for a focused praxis and to become part of an international community of artists, theorists and curators.


Utopia Project has started by the initiative of two artists. Vassilis Vlastaras, visual artist and lecturer in the Athens School of Fine Arts and Maria Glyka, visual artist and teacher in the Ba and Ma Program of Vakalo College of Art and Design. The workshop is organized by the Athens School of Fine Arts and it is taking part every July in the Asfa annex in Rethymno Crete. The first Utopia Project was held in 2006 in Rethymno under the title “Utopia as an Island” with an international body of 15 participants, guests and faculty. That was followed by “Utopia and Violence” in 2007, “Utopia and Praxis: May68-May08” in 2008, “Utopia and Youth” in 2009. This year it runs under the title “Utopia and Nature, based on H.D. Thoreau’s “Walden”. By now the whole body of participants guests artists, theorists counts over the number of eighty people.


In this a-disciplinary program, students are free to pursue work in any art-related genre and to create their own course of study, working independently and with the support of the the coordinating and guest artists and theorists.


The workshop is intended to lift the boundaries between fine arts, traditional and new media, artists and theorists. It aims to create a space for participants of all disciplines to interact with a wide range of artists, scientists, theorists, media practitioners and visionaries and provoke them to investigate their work independently and transdisciplinarily in both a cultural and studio context according to the year’s subject.


Utopia Project is an international program organized by Asfa. The residencies take place in the annex of Asfa in Rethyno Crete every July for about 20 days. Asfa provides a range of accommodation listings and arranges a special group rate at a student hotel each summer as well as student travel and city guides.

Participants make their own arrangements for travel from their country of origin to Crete. Nevertheless accommodation in shared rooms, basic meals and basic materials are provided by Asfa. The annex is uniquely placed on the top of Evligias Hill in Rethymno, 15 min walk from the center of the old historical town. Daily bus schedule links Rethymno to the airports of Chania and Heraklio.


The whole part of the workshop takes place in English. Many languages are spoken but talks, critiques and lectures all take place in English. Participants must have a good command of spoken English.

Facilities, Equipment and Resources

Inside and outside working spaces for making or install art work, workshop and computer stations with scanner and printer and WiFi access fulfill the residency needs.


Each year, artists create art projects (paintings, film or videos, installations, performances, photographs, etc. Participants’ exhibit or present documentation of their final art and research projects in the exhibition space inside the site.  Through discussions they gain the critical, technological, and aesthetic experiences from the guest artists and theorists. The last week beside concluding their final personal work they are expected to take part on the organization and realization of a small publication that presents the group’s idea of each year’s subject.

Community Alumni

Past years’ participants continue to take part in residencies by giving and receiving critiques, exhibiting, as program advisors, and as guests of the Utopia Project.

via utopia project 2010: info.