Setting the Scene
Africa is at an interesting point in its quest for modernity and development. New industries are emerging as both the growth of cities and the availability of new technologies allow for new possibilities of scale and diversity in cultural production, business, research and innovation. In Nigeria, the notable rise of cultural and creative industries is already providing viable alternatives for a largely young and entrepreneurial demographic. New media has also expanded the scope for expression, dissemination and dialogue, with wider reaching consequences for both local businesses and governance. Although yet to reach its full potential, such notable changes make it possible to imagine a more dynamic self-driven mode of development and cultural production that responds better to our nuanced realities. It is also possible to set the tone for a new kind of discussion on the continent that reclaims the narrative at a time where knowledge – and the ownership of knowledge – is extremely powerful.
Lagos, our site of intervention, has long been the historic epicenter for West Africa. Defined as much by networks and relationships as it is by its people, buildings and infrastructure, the city lends itself as a prototype for the proposed initiative: a hub.
The Hub presents an opportunity to align and concentrate these transformative energies in a manner that will not only drive social change but also attract resources and cultivate a platform for both critique and experimentation.
The Proposed Hub
Following joint and independent stakeholder engagements with actors in the creative and cultural sector, the Ford Foundation and Goethe-Institut have identified the need for a well-equipped and affordable space to support diverse functions. Proposed facilities include dedicated performance and exhibition space, educational & training facilities, a resource & media centre, a multimedia archive, technical facilities for media production, residency spaces as well as a bookshop and café for public use.
The vision of the Hub is to promote collaborative, inventive and interdisciplinary practices that are socially engaging and transformative. The idea is of an open platform that at once acts as a meeting place for the convergence and exchange of knowledge and ideas, and an enabler of interdisciplinary research and practice for social change and consumption. Crucial to this is how we establish ourselves within the city and how the culture and identity of the Hub will be shaped by its location and immediate environment. Thus one foundational ambition will be to set the impact beyond the building and its programmed activities and to integrate an outreach element that could combine satellite facilities with community development initiatives.
Facilities and funding to support creatives, researchers & innovators.
A meeting place where interdisciplinary projects are encouraged.
Build Local Capacity
Learning centered on best-practices and technical know-how.
Forging relationships and facilitating exchange across and beyond the city.
Create New Publics
Virtual and physical spaces for discourse and open engagement.
Reclaim the Narrative
Homegrown narratives to reshape the tone and content of the global discourse.
Build archives, support local research and encourage critical engagement.
Activate Social Change
Harnessing the power of knowledge-based creativity to transform society.
The prospective site for the Hub is the Printing Press on Lagos Island, the historic heart of the former political and economic centre of Lagos. Built in 1896 on Broad Street, its prominent and stately architecture complements its status as the stronghold of authority for the colonial and Federal government administrations. Though in a derelict state, it retains the potential to be reinstated as the site and symbol of transformative processes in cultural, artistic, technological and academic pursuits.
The site presents an exciting challenge to craft a new language and life for the Printing Press as part of its metamorphosis. The ideal structure is one that resonates with its new community of users and responds to spatial and demographic changes in the area, while also reviving its former position as an archive and propagator of discourses that are definitive and defining to our society. As a building and urban project, it could also serve as exemplary approach for restorative and adaption building projects that preserve architectural heritage and contribute to wider urban regeneration processes.
Nevertheless, other buildings are also being considered in parallel as possible sites for the proposed Hub. Some considerations in the review and selection process include location, size and adaptability of building, scope for expansion, as well as the status of ownership and potential for acquisition.
An Inclusive Approach
We’ll be holding a stakeholder workshop involving urban practitioners, researchers, activists and artists from the city and around the world. This is due to hold on the 19-20th May, 2015 as part of the inclusive approach we’ve adopted to ensure that stakeholders are engaged regularly throughout the process. Our research has also involved field trips to interact with and learn from similar initiatives in Germany and Kenya and the dissemination of a survey to key experts in Nigeria.
Meet The Team
Ore Disu | Nsibidi Institute
Malaika Toyo | Arterial Network & AWCA
Jude Anogwih | VAN Lagos
This project is funded by the Ford Foundation and supported by Goethe Institut.