London is facing increasing pressure from a changing and globalising world, our communities struggling to accommodate the fux associated with population growth, migration and economic uncertainty. Yet as a society we continue to view the Western city as the model of development – at the forefront of modernisation and progress. In March 2016 Lucy Paton, Anthony Staples, Benedetta Rogers & Matthew Eberhard travelled to Accra in Ghana, looking to this rapidly growing African city for an ex-centric study of contemporary responses to 21st century pressures as part of their 2015 RIBA Boyd Auger Scholarship.
The group set out to explore and document Ghanaians’ inventive responses - embracing rather than repudiating the productive forces of diversity and immigration, while hoping to investigate an alternative and exploratory means of recording our cities. Initially they employed the conventional tools of the architecture feld trip - walking the city, documenting our observations through images and drawings. But they were outsiders, their images depicted stereotypical scenes of crowded streets and crumbling tropical buildings that didn’t refect the reality of living in the city. So they shifted their approach, focussing on the people of Accra, the characters they’d met and the conversations they’d had. Armed with a sound recorder and open ears, they re-traced their earlier walks, guided through lived experiences of Accra.
Using sound recordings and interviews undertaken during their month in Ghana their research presents a woven patchwork of personal stories from across the capital, which heard together; tell broader narratives about the city, its diverse and distinct communities and idiosyncratic inhabitants. Despite its challenges, they found communities within Accra that remain resilient and expectant. Characteristics that manifest themselves in a highly social urban landscape able to integrate strangers, accommodate change and above all adapt.