How to be independent - Part 1: Manuals

Seminar (052-0817-22)
Organizer: Visiting Professor Hannah le Roux
Lecturers: Prof. Dr. Hannah Le Roux
Time: Fridays 12:00-14:00
Location: HPL D 34

This seminar explores a hidden history of resistance to the globalisation of architectural techniques. During what Okwui Enwezor called “the Short Century” defined by African independence, 1957-1994, building activists communicated in ways that got around having to use former colonial powers to reproduce knowledge. Inspired by Latin American autonomia, activist architects in the new Non-Aligned nations produced manuals on building in earth, experiments in fibre-based roofing, rewilding, and bio-energy, amongst others. Given that this research area is now distant in time and space, the seminar aims to build an archive of their dispersed grey literature, and gain empathy in imagining the dilemmas they faced. As a response, we will experiment with the production of our own manuals about autonomous ways of building.

Course material

Seminar 01 (23/09) - Course introduction


Seminar 02 (30/09) - Big VS Small

Arundati Roy, A greater common good. 
Namwali Serpell, Learning from the Kariba Dam. 
Łukasz Stanek, Post-colonial education in Kumasi.

Seminar 03 (07/10) - Southern solidarities

Laurie Baker, MUD. 
Arturo Escobar, Encountering development - The making and unmaking of the Third World. 
Chimurenga, Festac ’77. 

Seminar 04 (14/10) - Manuals 1

Indice general de la Cartilla de Vivienda 
Making building blocks with the CIVA-Ram 

Seminar 05 (21/10) - Western models and allies

Stewart Brand, The Whole Earth Catalogue. 
Felicity Scott, Outlaw Territories : environments of insecurity, architectures of counterinsurgency. 

Seminar 06 (04/11) - Manuals 2

Ministry of Housing and Construction of Peru, The stabiliwed adobe. 
Government of United Republic of Tanganyika and Zanzibar & National Housing Corporation, Build your home with "dedication". 
Multiple Authors, People's Workbook, working together to change your community. 

Seminar 07 (11/11) - Manual making workshop

Seminar 08 (18/11) - Manuals 3


Seminar 09 (25/11) - The afterlives of manuals

Kwame Nkrumah, Neo-Colonialism: the last stage of Imperialism. 
Teresa Hayter, Aid as Imperialism. 

Seminar 10 (02/12) - Final presentations 1

Seminar 11 (09/12) - Final presentations 2

Additional readings


Africa is a Country (online journal)
Viviana D’Auria, Human Settlements : Formulations and (re)calibrations. 
Franz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks. 
Bessie Head, Serowe: Village of the Rain Wind. 
Walter Rodney, How Europe underdeveloped Africa. 
Łukasz Stanek, Architecture in Global Socialism: Eastern Europe, West Africa, and the Middle East in the Cold War. 

Oral history options

Deborah van der Plaat, Janina Gosseye & Naomi Stead, Speaking of Buildings: Oral History in Architectural Research. 
Oral History Association, OHA Statement on Ethics.


Pierre Eichmeyer