Positions: On Modern Architecture and Urbanism/Histories and Theories issue:1 pages:40-63
Recent literature has increasingly highlighted the plural, contested, and political relationship between the work of modernist practitioners in several locations outside the West and the design interventions produced during the processes of decolonization and nation-building. Scholars focusing on the African context have explored the transition from colonial conditions to a post-colonial/ post-independence situation, and the adjustments in the practice of 'tropical architecture' such shift entailed. This contribution investigates the recruitment of Doxiadis Associates as part of a pan-Ghanaian - but also in a way neocolonial - reconceptualization of the Tema master plan. By examining Doxiadis' hierarchical system of interlocking communities and various housing types, this essay reflects on the ways in which the Greek architect-planner's quest for invariable spatial tools (which were seen as a guarantee of emancipation) entailed an ambivalent continuity with the attempts by tropical architects to reproduce the lifestyles of African villagers through the essentialization of a few relevant spatial components.