Why you should listen
Africa today has the youngest population and fastest rate of urbanization on the planet. How can we amplify indigenous innovation continent-wide to accommodate the needs of Africa’s next billion urban dwellers? Collaborating with thousands of young people in West Africa over the past decade, DK Osseo-Asare has pioneered new approaches to design and deliver architecture and inclusive innovation to people living in resource-constrained environments: reframing the micro-architectures of "kiosk culture" as urban infrastructure for resilience; experimenting with "bambots," or bamboo architecture robots; and prototyping off-grid in the Niger Delta an open-source model of hybrid rural/urban development for Africa.
In 2012, Osseo-Asare and Yasmine Abbas launched the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), a community-based project to empower grassroots makers in Africa and beyond. Co-designed with over a thousand youth in and around Agbogbloshie scrapyard in Accra, Ghana -- infamously mischaracterized as "the world's largest e-waste dump" -- AMP Spacecraft is an open architecture for "crafting space" that links a mobile structure with modular toolsets to help makers make more and better, together. AMP has deployed three spacecraft to date, with the goal of networking a pan-African fleet of maker kiosks that enable youth to reimagine (e-)waste as raw material for building digital futures, recycle better and unlock their creative potential to remake the world.
Osseo-Asare is co-founding principal of Low Design Office (LOWDO), a trans-Atlantic architecture and integrated design studio based in Ghana and Texas. He co-founded the Ashesi Design Lab as Chief Maker and is Assistant Professor of Architecture and Engineering Design at Penn State University, where he runs the Humanitarian Materials Lab (HuMatLab) and serves as Associate Director of Penn State’s Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Design with Africa (AESEDA).