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playtime in africa student work


ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS Thank you to the Mmofra Foundation and their pioneering work to advance the cause of Efua Sutherland and create vibrant urban spaces for children in Ghana. The foundation was a gracious host and partner during the studio. In particular, thank you to: Prof. Esi Sutherland-Addy Ms. Amowi Phillips Uncle Ralph Sutherland Auntie Ama Buabeng Auntie Lizzie Mr. Ralph Sutherland Mr. Andrew McClymont Mr. Mensah Buabeng Ernest Buabeng

We would also like to acknowledge: Mr. Sammy Ansah and Ms. Cordie Aziz, The Wheel Story The studio benefitted greatly from Ghanaian Culture and Society expertise during the field study portion of the class. In particular, thank you to: Dr. Kwesi Craig Brookins Professor Kofi Asare Opoku Professor Kofi Baku Cedi Bead Industry Mr. Kweku A. Anno, Biofilcom The Wheel Story

The Ghana International Design Studio relies on the local expertise of Ghanaian tour guides and operators. In particular, thank you to: Mr. Kwaku Passah, Galaxy Tours The Honorable Joseph Omari, Motherland Tours Uncle Stephen Kpogoh Auntie Esinu Mottey Abeeku

Thank you to the NC State University College of Design students who participated in studio and worked diligently to produce the work contained in this volume: Carla Carothers Blackmon, Design Studies Mitch Caldwell, LAR + ARC Anna Chatwell, Industrial Design Sarah Dickerson, ARC Todgi Dozier, LAR Taylor D. Hamer, ARC Stephanie Heimstead, ARC Jared Kaelin, LAR

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Manpreet Kaur, LAR Ruoqing Ke, Desgn Studies Margaret Mayer, Graphic Design Briana Outlaw, LAR Natalie Seibel, Art+Design Zakiya Toney, ARC Rachel Wilson, LAR


CONTENTS

PAGE

ABOUT THE STUDIO

3

MISSION AND GOALS

9

CONTEXT

12

RESOURCES

13

THE SITE

17

THE MASTER PLAN

35

COMMENTS

37

STUDENT WORK

40

REFERENCE

74

APPRECIATION

75

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ABOUT THE STUDIO

The Ghana studio conducted field study in and around five cities with the most extensive activity happening in the capital city of Accra.

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The studio and the seminar shared a regional immersion experience including a visit to Kwahu Ridge.

The purpose of the Ghana summer studio was to provide study abroad opportunities that acquainted students and faculty at NC State University and other system wide institutions with the history, culture, and customs of Ghana, and prospectively prepare culturally competent students for global citizenship. Students benefited greatly from the deep pool of goodwill and friendships generated by the Ghanaian people and easily merged with the normal life-style and culture of this unique African country. North Carolina students returned home intellectually transformed and changed in unexpected and welcome ways. The Department of Art + Design at NC State University, and the College of Art at Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST), have shared a linkage agreement for over 16 years. In that time, hundreds of students and faculty from both institutions have shared immersive cross-cultural experiences. In the case of Art + Design, the results of these experiences have been over 5 gallery exhibi-

tions and other design work. Additional forums have been created by corollary professions including architecture, art history, communications, eco-tourism, english, forestry, graphic design, industrial design, landscape architecture and psychology. NC State University’s Ghana study abroad approach has served as a model for subsequent programs at other universities, including several Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU’s). The studio collaborated with Africana Studies and a seminar led by Dr. Kwesi Craig Brookins. Dr. Brookins, as well as Ghanaian scholars, cotaught a workshop on Ghanaian Culture and Society with Professor Boone.

Over:The diagram maps the trajectory of students from arrival, through their work on the Playtime in Africa site.

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The field study component of the course immersed students in a wide variety of contexts in Ghana. From urban to rural, and from emphasis on the natural world to cultural practices, students learned through first hand interaction with Ghanaians engaged in making. In Accra, students visited the University of Accra at Legon, and learned from noted Ghanaian scholars about the history of Ghana and its current state of politics, art, and popular culture. The connections between Ghana and the rst of the world were made clear through tours of the WEB Dubois Center, the tomb and park honoring Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, and other urban Ghanaian venues.

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From Accra, the studio ventured to the Volta Region, where they participated in local craft industries including beadmaking, ceramics, and other traditions. In addition ot making artifacts, students took notes, and documented historical and socio-cultural references connecting crafts to their places, value and belief systems, and community issues.

A highlight of the Volta Region study was time spent with Dr. Kofi Asare Opoku at his “farm”. The farm was in fact an outdoor living exhibit of the plants, herbs, and traditions associated with traditional Ghanaian values about people’s relationship to the land. Dr. Opoku, a pre-eminent expert on West African religions and spiritual systems, helped the students ground their observations in the experiences and perceptions of Ghanaians. At Ananse Okura, or “Ananse’s Village”, Dr. Opoku welcomed the students at a common seating area and table, and shared fruit, water, and stories which resonated with everyone for the remainder of the course. The “miracle berry”, a local fruit that makes anything taste sweet, was a practical symbol of the perceptual and experiential transformations to come.


From the Volta Region, the course moved on to Kwahu ridge and Mpraeso, the home of our host, the Honorable Joseph Omari. While in Mpraeso, students experienced a middle class village experience, enjoyed local foods, and the pleasant mountain top climate. While in Mpraeso, the studio became familiar with the structure and order of local governance, and engaged Ghanaian children at a local school. Kwahu ridge and Mpraeso offered a different context than urban Accra. Students remarked that the village lifestyle, the slowed pace, and the persistance of local cultural traditions offered a window into the possibilities of an open space in a busy city in Ghana. From Kwahu ridge, the studio continued to Kumasi, the cultural center of the Ashanti region. Kumasi is home to many of the cultural traditions associated with Ghana including Kente weaving, Adinkra stamping, lost wax metal techniques, wood carving, and gold. Numerous craft villages satellite Kumasi, and daily excursions to these villages provided students with

first hand experience with making traditional Ghanaian cultural artifacts. Of particular interest was Ntonso, the home of Adinkra stamping. The Adinkra is a system of symbolic stamped cloth used to communicate cultural values, and used in remembering the ancestors. Village leaders guided students through each stepin the stamp, cloth, and ink making processes, and empowered the students to make their own cloth. Through formal and informal interactions, students learned about the roles of art and culture in the daily life of Ghanaians. The studio visited Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) and experienced the environments created for more formal and “western� learning. Finally, the students experienced Kejetia Market; the largest open air market in West Africa. With over 10,000 shops and covering nearly 3 miles, the market reinforced the roles of trade and commerce in the daily lives of Ghanaian people.

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MISSION AND GOALS

Of the 24 total students in the joint Design and Africana Studies course, 16 were in the College of Design representing all departments and the School of Architecture. The work included was produced in first summer session and included an intensive period of action project development. on the Playtime in Africa site. The focus of the 2014 studio was a partnership with the Mmofra Foundation and design collaboration on their Playtime In Africa site in Ghana’s capital city, Accra.“Mmofra” is an Akan word meaning “children”, and the foundation works to champion the need for accessible and engaging public space for children in Ghana. 9

The studio engaged in conceptual and action projects to better understand the design issues facing children in African cities, as well as strategies for addressing them through collaborative and multidisciplinary work. The products, prototypes of educational play experiences on the site, would be evaluated for their fun and utility but also as artifacts demostrating student learning about Ghanaian art, design, and culture.


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CONTEXT

Photo credit: Playtime in Africa by Efua Sutherland

Playtime in Africa by Efua Sutherland (1961) provided a passionate argument for the value of play and the needs of children in the growth of Ghana. Decades later, Mrs. Sutherland founded The Mmofra Foundation to continue the advocacy for children in the development of contemporary Ghana. The foundation envisions a sustainably designed child-focused park and centre in Ghana, which inspires creativity, fosters play and educates through hands-on discovery. As a site of innovation in products, programmes and environments for young people, we will share our successful models for the benefit of children living all over Africa.

Ghana’s population is young - 40% under age 15, median age of 21.The country is rapidly urbanizing. There are few purpose-designed public spaces for children in Ghana outside of school property. Urban green space utilization in Accra, a city of about 4 million people, is emerging in signifcance. Children create their own play spaces, often in unsafe environments. A very formal educational model is dominant in the classroom, leaving few opportunities for developing imagination and creativity. The Mmofra Foundation envisions a sustainably designed child-focused park and centre in Ghana, which inspires creativity, fosters play and educates through hands-on discovery. 12


RESOURCES

In Creating Better Cities with Children and Youth (Earthscan, 2008), David Driskell uses international case studies to illustrate the tools available to empower designers and children to work together on issues of the built environment. The studio created a site evaluation worksheet modeled after Driskell’s “Self-evaluation of your city as a place for young people” and used this worksheet to evaluate children’s activity in Ghanaian urban spaces including the Playtime in Africa site.

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Ghana’s urban spaces include streets, open air markets, plazas, courtyards, and schoolyards. Of these, the utilitarian use of the streets and markets represented the busiest urban spaces. Urban parks in the western sense came to Ghana in the late 19th century and were created by the British during colonialism. Very little use of the few parks spaces available was observed in Ghana; the majority of children’s activity occurred in streets and school yards.


In The Human Centered Design Toolkit, IDEO offers a range of engagement tools to prompt cross-cultural dialogue with people to better define their needs and interests. Group and individual interview techniques were adapted from the toolkit to engage Ghanaian children (intermediate school students ranging between 10-13 y/o) in a discussion of their favorite places to play and the activities they enjoyed the best. Football (soccer) and a local game called Ampe were the most popular activities. However, they also shared an interest in local board games, clapping and music games as well.

Two additional resources were used to frame investigation of the Playtime in Africa Site. The Essentials of Early Childhood Care and Education by Patricia Kyeremateng Berchie offered a rich Ghanaian perspective on the developmental needs of children and the value of play in education. Although Ghanaian formal education is rigid, Mrs. Berchie identifies several key benefits of play in childhood development, especially in young children (up to age 6). Finally, Outdoor Settings for Playing and Learning by Robin Moore served as a useful guide to frame site analysis and master plan concepts used in the studio. Over: Aerial photo of Accra, The Playtime in Africa site is off of the image (upper right).

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Photo credit: Delta/KLM Airlines (2004)


THE SITE ACCRA

GULF OF GUINEA

CITY SCALE Ge

org

eW .B ush Hig

UNIVERSITY OF GHANA-LEGON

ACHIMOTA SCHOOL

hw ay

Le g

on

Ro

ad

ACHIMOTA FOREST Ea

st

DZORWULU

ota

im Ach

sa wa m

Ro

ad

d

Roa

Nn

Ring Road

ad

i

on

at er

Ro

N

Lib

The Playtime in Africa site is located on private land in the Dzorwulu area of Accra. Accra is the capital of Ghana and home to 4 million people. The Playtime in Africa Site is strategically located near the Abelemkpe Traffic Light, a well known local landmark. Immediately north of the site is George W. Bush Memorial Highway, with nationally renowned Achimota School and University of Ghana Legon just beyond. The Achimota Forest Reserve and Golf course are the only significant open spaces near the site. there are no parks or playgrounds near the site (the small green spots on the map are football fields).

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Headwaters for creeks and streams flowing through Accra are found in this area. However, many of these creeks and streams have been channelized and piped, especially in the post World War 2 era. Architect Ralph Sutherland recalls being on the site as a child and when the surrounding area was predominately rural with forest. Few remnants of those landscapes remain in the area.


Interchange

NEIGHBORHOOD SCALE

Ge

org

eW .B

us

Abelemkpe Traffic Light (Intersection) CENTER FOR SKILLS TRAINING

SITE

VICHAN’S SCHOOL

MIXED USE

RESIDENTIAL

hH

ACHIMOTA FOREST

igh

wa y

FREEWAY COMMERCIAL COMMERCIAL

PRIDE OF THE EAST INTL SCHOOL

ota

im Ach

PEREZ CHAPEL INTL.

MIXED USE COMPACT WALKABLE

N

d

Roa

URBAN AGRICULTURE

The site is surrounded by neighborhoods of varying density and quality. To the north of the site are larger private residences and businesses transitioning into freeway oriented residential and commercial uses along Bush Highway. To the east is a range of commercial and industrial enterprises. An active construction company operates immediately east of the site. To the immediate south of the site is a school and high density housing in poor repair.

The Mmofra Foundation says that residents of these buildings illegally dump waste on their site. Continuing south, the neighborhood transitions into a compact and walkable mixed use area with shops and restaurants. To the west are large instutions and offices including the Perez Chapel International, the Center for Skills Training, and Cocoa Industry. Most people and street activity was observed near the Ablempke traffic light and south.

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THE SITE Abelemkpe Traffic Light (Intersection)

ota

im Ach d

Roa

19


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THE SITE Abelemkpe Traffic Light (Intersection)

ota

im Ach d

Roa

21


B A

C D

Photo credit: Google Earth

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THE SITE

A

C 23

VIEW LOOKING EAST FROM EXISTING PLAY AREA

VIEW LOOKING NORTHEAST FROM URBAN AGRICULTURE FIELDS


B

VIEW LOOKING WEST ALONG MINI MARVELS WALL

D

VIEW LOOKING NORTH 24


BIOFIL TOILET

BIOFIL TOILET WASHROOM

DIGESTER/ AERATOR

EFFLUENT TO PLANTING BED

Diagram of Biofil Toilet process (based on notes from Biofilcom site visit)

An important component to park development and use is the creation of amenities like washroom facilities. Biofilcom Engineering, a Ghanaian firm within walking distance of the park site, has developed an innovative low-flow composting toilet. Their Biofil toilet can flush with as little as 8 ounces of water, and requires no connections to water or sewer lines. Liquid and solid waste is separated through the use of permeable concrete, and the solid waste is directed to a container where air, insects, and earthworms decompose the waste until it can be safely used as compost. The liquid waste is directed to planting beds and vegetation.

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Biofilcom Engineering is collaborating with Mmofra Foundation and other organizations to provide four Biofil toilets to Playtime in Africa, and students were involved in the construction of washroom shelter. The shelter was designed by architect Ralph Sutherland and emulates the architectural traditions of Northern Ghana. It uses a lightweight frame, wire mesh, with concrete. The structure will anchor the southern end of the park, and also serve a toddler play area (see The Master Plan).


THE SITE

BIOFIL WASHROOMS

The entire property is the historic home of Efua Sutherland. The private home and gardens are separated from the Playtime in Africa site by a drain. the entire site s surrounded by an 8 foot tall wall with two gates. A miniature golf course called Mini Marvels occupies a small section of the site and is walled off from the park site. The park site is generally flat and predominately in agricultural production. Large trees occupy the middle of the site and provide shade and shelter for Mmofra Foundation activities. An excavated spot in the far southeastern corner of the area has resulted in a pond. This is a privately owned part of the site and a nusiance to park users (mosquitos, water hazard, tree damage).

The site is secured when not in use and is maintained by the foundation and its associates with the support of family. The foundation regularly engages around 90 children on site. Activities include arts and humanities activities, performing arts, and educational support. Children who use the site include neighborhood children but also include children from across Accra. Weekend and bi-weekly planned activities make up the majority of site use.

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THE SITE

NG ODI

FLO

DRA

IN

WATER

NEW BLDG BLOCKS RUNOFF

Although the site is relatively flat, water significantly impacts site use and quality. Ghana has a dry season and rainy season. The site has a high water table; this limits the ability to excavate on site. Formerly, the site was in a rural and forested setting where waterways were open. Now, the site is surrounded on all sides by development, roads and parking spaces. The increased impermeable surfaces have increased runoff and resulted in more frequent flooding on site. In particular, a new building under construction and it’s wall have created a de facto dam slowing water flow through the existing drain. According to architect Ralph Sutherland, the extended saturation of the soil is altering it’s ability to support vegetation. This low lying area of 27

poor drainage is between the existing drain and the Playtime in Africa site. The location of Biofil toilets and washrooms near this part of the site offer important opportunities to teach children about the importance of water quality. During a studio tour of the Biofil toilet development process, engineers shared an experimental hydroponic garden. Water used to support fresh water fish is pumped to irrigate raised planting beds. The plants use the nutrients from fish waste and return filtered water. The foundation is interested in incorporating part of this idea in the Playtime in Africa site. through play settings, images and infographics on the washroom, and many other ways.


DRYING WINDS FROM NORTHEAST

MICROCLIMATE HOTT

EST T IME

OF DA Y

2PM 10AM

SUNSET

SUNRISE

COOLING WINDS FROM SOUTHWEST

The sun is hottest and shines directly on the site between 10am and 2pm. The site is roughly half wooded and half agriculture and lawn. Mature trees play a significant role in the site and help to mitigate the heat. But the trees also cast shade and impact the ability for understory plantings to grow. Cooling breezes come from the Gulf of Guinea in the southwest and during the dry season, drying winds come from the Sahel region in the northeast. Combined with the effects of the water table and rainfall, there are a range of microclimates on the site.

Since the site will be more intensively used soon as a park, adapting site uses to microclimate factors, or altering the environment to change microclimate factors will be important. Currently, most Playtime in Africa site activities are clustered under mature trees. The remainder of the site is yet to be developed. Planting shade trees and/or developing shade structures will greatly expand the comfort of parts of the site. Diverting storm water runoff to strategic parts of the site, as well as planting, can reduce the risk of attracting mosquitos.

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VEGETATION

The Playtime in Africa site is rich in diverse vegetation. There are very few places in Accra with the same amount and character of mature trees and active agricultural land. Before engaging the park site, the studio visited the Center for the Scientific Research into Plant Medicine where staff revealed that 70% of Ghanaians rely solely on traditional herbal medicines for their medical needs. Later, the studio visited Professor Kofi Asare Opoku at “Anansi Akura” (“The Spider’s Village”); a farm and botanical garden he created to feature traditional landscape. At the village, Professor Opoku led a walking tour of native and traditional plantings, many with medicinal properties. Vegetation plays health, cultural, and spiritual roles in Ghanaian culture. 29

Many of the plants found on the Playtime in Africa site are well known locally for their medicinal properties. Auntie Ama Buabeng, one of the foundation’s resource persons, gave a walking tour of the site and identified these plants. They include: Nkasae Nkasae (When dried and ground this is a strong anti-diarrheal medicine) , Lemon Grass (when boiled as a tea this can be used to treat numerous diseases) , Neem (when boiled in a tea it reduces fever), Okanto (the bark of this tree can be made into a paste that helps with setting broken bones), and Twenti (a vine that when boiled in tea is a powerful pain reliever) .


THE SITE

Throughout the studio’s travel through Ghana, elders communicated their opinion that young people are losing their connections to traditional Ghanaian culture. Passing down of the knowledge to identify and prepare traditional herbal medicines from local vegetation is an important process of empowering future generations to perpetuate cultural values. In the case of the Playtime in Africa site, the existing vegetation offers a unique setting to enable the transmission of traditional culture to young people. Identifying medicinal plants, planting special beds featuring different plants, and inviting elders and young people to the site to demonstrate herbal medicine preparation. 30


THE SITE

VIEWS AND WAYFINDING

TH N PA

RIA DEST

PE ABELEMKPE TRAFFIC LIGHT (INTERSECTION)

VIEW TO MINI MARVELS

VIEW TO PRIVATE RESIDENCE

ING

MP G, DU

RIN LITTE

Views play a significant role in the surrounding area and on the site. Although the Playtime in Africa site is near a busy intersection, there are no signs or visual cues that this resource is nearby. Additionally, there are no elements present on the walk to the main gate. And once someone arrives, there are no ways of finding most site elements until they are nearby. Maximizing site views through way finding could increase site visibility, and assist people using the park.

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The Ablemkpe intersection is vehicular scaled and filled with billboards and road signs. However, there is an attractive nursery fronting the western edge, a bus shelter, and various pedestrian scaled elements that could be used to communicate the image of Playtime in Africa to passersby. Additionally, there are posts, tree stumps, and wall surfaces along the walk to the site that could be treated to guide pedestrians to the main site entry. Once on the site, a landmark feature could be introduced as a way to gather people and orient them to site features. The site is currently not open to the general public and still under development.


SOUND

MUSIC FROM MINI MARVELS

TRAFFIC SOUNDS

CONSTRUCTION ACTIVITY SOUNDS

SCHOOL SOUNDS

Sound, particularly adjacent urban sound, plays a significant role in the experience of the site. Only a few places and times on the Playtime in Africa site is a person able to block out adjacent sounds and focus on the sounds of nature; animals, water movement, or leaves rustling in the breeze. Ambient street sounds and traffic streets are constant and minimally obtrusive. A more distracting sound is the vehicles and activities at the adjacent construction company site. Although not in constant use, the active periods of use on the site are the loudest experienced during site work. Mini Marvels plays music that can be heard on site. Although it was not a nuisance during site visits, members of the Mmofra Foundation mentioned some conflicts over

volume. Lastly, activity from the adjacent school including the sounds of children playing could be heard for the majority of the site visits. This is an urban site and urban sounds are a part of the experience of the place. However, there may be opportunities to leverage sound as an outdoor learning opportunity. “White noise” generated by on site activities including water might provide settings where listening is a part of the lessons being taught. Creating and locating seating areas strategically to avoid distracting sounds could enhance children’s concentration and work process. Programming times for children’s activities to match the desired ambient volume levels is also a possibility. 32


THE SITE

PEDESTRIAN CIRCULATION

MOST PEDESTRIAN ACTIVITY OBSERVED ON SITE

MOST PEDESTRIAN ACTIVITY OBSERVED

Pedestrians were observed all across the area, especially on busy streets west of the Playtime in Africa site. Walkers, including school children were observed intermittently along the street that serves as the main entrance to the site. There were occasional walkers moving through the site. The majority of pedestrian activity on the site was clustered in the northern edge under the mature shade trees. Although the busiest streets in the area have sidewalks, there are no walks on the north of the site. A worn path in the sideyards of adjacent properties, as well as the street serves as the de facto pedestrian way. The Playtime in Africa site has the beginning of a site walk made of dirt, mulch, and edged by tree branches. Spaces under the trees are dirt and 33

allow for free movement over the majority of the northern side of the site. As the park gets more programming and visitors, there will be more opportunities to define pedestrian circulation. A short term opportunity is connecting the existing site uses to the new washrooms (under construction). Defining and maintaining a continuous walking path from the Ablemkpe intersection will enhance safety and comfort for children and others using the space. On site, defining primary site paths and secondary paths can help people find on site programs and encourage site discovery. Through the use of path materials, ground covers, and other design elements, paths can form the connective structure of the entire park.


VEHICULAR CIRCULATION

EED IC SP

AFF TE TR DERA

SITE ACCESS

MO

SITE ACCESS

ACCESS (CLOSED)

VED NPA

EET

STR

U

H

G

HI IC

FF

A

TR E

M LU

VO

Children dropped off by their caregivers in private cars as well as people arriving by Tro Tro (Ghanaian private buses) and taxi comprise the largest vehicular users of the Playtime in Africa site. The Ablemkpe intersection are well maintained. The main access road to the Playtime in Africa site is in disrepair. An advantage of the poor road maintenance is the numerous potholes slow drivers to a traffic speed that is more compatible with pedestrian movement. However, it also forces sometimes risky driving behavior that could be in conflict with walkers. There are currently two vehicular gates for potential site access. One has been designated by the foundation as their main site entry (next to Mini Marvels), and the other is on the eastern edge of the site. This gate

has been sealed as it leads to the pond (former building excavation site). Limiting vehicular access to the main road is in accordance with the Playtime in Africa site objectives and helps to support a safe and secure environment. Currently, there is no formal drop off or parking area on site. The master plan provides a location for these uses, as well as potential service road access to a future Mmofra Centre. There is an opportunity to support the overall objectives of the foundation through the location and design of on-site vehicular circulation and parking. Minimizing the footprint of these uses, as well as mitigating their impact on the experience and function of the place could be considered in future design phases. 34


THE MASTER PLAN

Architect Ralph Sutherland presented the current Mmofra Foundation Playtime in Africa master plan to the studio. Sutherland has led the conceptual planning for the site since its inception. The plan uses a wide walking path/ service access road to define a series of special use zones surrounding a proposed Mmofra Centre; a combination outdoor play and performance space with offices and a library above. A pedestrian walkway would extend from the current entry gate with two guardhouse areas. Parking would be reserved to the northern edge of the site. The zones created embrace the wide range of existing site uses and proposes additional areas. These area include a craft village an active play zone, a toddler play zone, a green zone (demonstrat35

ing sustainable design approaches like the Biofil toilets in the washroom area), a buffer zone, and a flexible open space identified for site expansion. The master plan preserves what is currently there and presents the Mmofra Centre as the new focal point of the site. it will occupy what are currently agricultural fields Additionally, the plan recommends a tree planting area to deter littering along the south side of the park.


The studio engaged in a review of the master plan and attempted to query its components based on observations of public spaces in Ghana. Traditional Ghanaian spaces appeared to be arranged around an open courtyard setting; a central gathering point where different people and activities can converge and engage. This appears in the Adinkra symbol Fihankra, and is the basic framework for many traditional Ghanaian houses across many regions. At another scale, these courtyard spaces expand into urban squares and plazas where special events including durbars (audiences with the local chief) occur. Photo credit: Ghana Museums and Tourism Board

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COMMENTS

Mud houses, common in Northern Ghana, formed the inspiration of the washroom and learning space.

When viewed at the scale of the city of Accra, the Playtime in Africa site could be viewed as the center of an urban courtyard; a shared open area designed to facilitate encounters between different people. At another scale, there could be a central gathering point in the actual site from which people could extend and explore the park. This multi-scalar approach to creating a strong and open hub for the park is what drives the diagram (above).

Photo credit: Ghana Museums and Tourism Board

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Ralph Sutherland was interested in designing the washroom in the spirit of a traditional Northern Ghana mud house. These housing type is unique for many reasons including the painted walls, specific types for each member


A

I

C

B

D

H E

G F

A

MAIN PEDESTRIAN ENTRY

D

OUTDOOR PLAY/PATHS

G

AQUAPONICS/ WATER PLAY

B

CENTRAL COURTYARD

E

AGRIFORESTRY/PLAY/PATHS

H

TODDLER PLAY

C

MMOFRA CENTRE (PARKING)

F

BIOFIL WASHROOMS

I

EXISTING PLAY/CRAFT/ PERFORMANCE

of the family, and the use of walls and enclosures for grain and animals. This precedent, which also uses a wall to frame a shared courtyard space, provides many exciting opportunities for engaging people, especially young people. The studio’s comments included: 1) establish a clear “center” of the site that is landscape and honors the spirit of the courtyard spaces found throughout Ghana, 2 ) consider relocating the proposed Mmofra Centre to the area currently planned for parking. The Mmofra Centre’s scale and height may take away from the landscape qualities proposed in the master plan. By moving it to a highly visible edge (and potentially parking at grade beneath it),

the landscape heart of the current Playtime in Africa site can be preserved and enhanced. The remainder of this report documents the individual student collaborative projects that prototyped play experiences for children using the site. It is hoped that the combination of short tern and long term proposals can be of use to the Mmofra Foundation and enhance the experience of the Playtime in Africa site.

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INSPIRATION Reading Nooks, Couches and Bookshelves The inspiration ofthe project came through an introduction to Sammy Ansah. Sammy is the creative mastrmind behind a large variety of projects but most famously for The Wheelhouse Project. He has built his home and living compund completely out of recycled materials collected across Ghana. What was interesting was his view on the recycled materials, he explained that everything has a place. If he has a water bottle... he asks, what can I do with this waterbottle. Everyone has a different and functionality for the recycled bottle. He also does not like to force a material into into a use. He prefers not to cut any wood, going back to everything belongs in a certain spot, strategically placed. Sammy is a genuine oersonaltiy and just one meeting with him and right away you can see with creatively personality and passion for building. this ispired us to used the recycled materials collected at Mmofra Foundation, using palet wood MMOMFRA and wooden wheel spools to create elements of a space for children to sit and enjoy reading.

Mitch Caldwell, Jared Kaelin, Rachel Wilson

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN Reading Nooks, Couches and Bookshelves We built a double-sided seat from a recycled wooden spool, a bench from two spools and recycled pallets, and a book rack using another, smaller spool and bamboo harvested on site.

All of our pieces are moveable but currently situated near the entrance to the site. Auntie Amowi is hoping to place the existing reading nooks and our new pieces scattered throughout the site.

Mitch Caldwell, Jared Kaelin, Rachel Wilson

The Mmofra Foundation’s Playtime in Africa site is located near Ablinkpe traffic light in Accra, Ghana. The site is bordered by apartment buildings and a school on one side, a construction company on another, and by roads on the remaining two sides.

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


EDUCATION Reading Nooks, Couches and Bookshelves The educational aspect of this project spans across several topics and uses. The base idea was to create reading nooks for kids to sit, somewhat seperated from their peers and focus on reading a book in a fun place. Outside of the physical use of sitting and reading, kids are able to look at the seats bookshelf and see that they are different than other pieces of furniture they have seen. This gives them the opportunity to think about recycling and see it in a tactile way. Finally, the reading nooks and seats will give the kids a lasting impression to pass on to family and peers about recycling, taking care of the space around you, reading and being able to do all of these things while being in nature in a beautiful place. Nature teaches on its on, we have just provided a place to listen.

Mitch Caldwell, Jared Kaelin, Rachel Wilson

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


INSPIRATION

IMAGE

Ruoqing Ke and Anna Chatwell NAME

The members of the Mmofra foundation mentioned a desire to have a set of book display shelves near the beginning of the main path through the site. After briefly looking through their collected precedence, we also drew inspiration from other parts of our trip. We visited the recycling expert in Accra who encouraged us to look at the materials around us and search out their potential to be reused creatively. We also drew inspiration from Anansi the spider, a beloved Ghanaian story character, and his famous web.

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN

Made from reclaimed wood and bamboo, the only new material used was the nails.

Ruoqing Ke and Anna Chatwell NAME

The case connects to nature by being near a tree, and protects from nature with a solid roof.

The hexagon-shaped case will go around a tree near the main walk way in the park.

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


EDUCATION

By placing an attractive book case near the entrance of the park , the children see the value placed on reading. Also, since reading stretches one’s imagination, the kids can see the relationship between reading and play. The use of recycled materials encourages the children to be responsible with the resources around them, and to think of creative ways to reuse them.

Ruoqing Ke and Anna Chatwell NAME

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


INSPIRATION The surrounding context of the site is urban, composed of a well-to do socioeconomic group, and several schools. Many individuals will benefit from this space as it will provide a restoration for adults and creative space for children to play. By creating space for children we are providing space for all ages to come and gather as a community. The craft villages, traditional ceremonies, cultural motifs, and landscapes of Ghana have inspired the various elements of this energetic space where children can learn and reflect on their culture. The Anansi village communicated the idea of developing a relationship with nature. It expressed the importance of learning and utilizing resources nature provides, such as herbs and fruit. Craft villages, such as Cedi Beads, and the pottery village in addition to traditional ceremonies reflected the importance of staying true to cultural values in order to pass on history and life lessons. Incorporating cultural values within design elements will help children feel comfortable and connected with the space. Additionally, existing elements and school children informed design elements that are familiar but can be adapted to provide a new experience.

Manpreet Kaur, Zakiya Toney, Briana Outlaw,

NAME Taylor D. Hamer, Todgi Dozier

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN Sound walls help children with developing motor and sensory skills, specifically hearing. Plastic colored bottles are strung on bamboo sticks. As children move their hands along the wall, the bottles filled with different amounts of seeds spin and make sound.

MANPREET KAUR

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN Wooden disks that resemble beads to be used in conjunction with the number and letter disks. Allow the children to physically see numerical representations

ZAKIYA TONEY

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN The calabash string musical set is designed to encourage children to experiment with sound and the process of exploring techinique of making different sounds with different materials. This instrument is suitable for a range of ages and allows each child to personalize their own musical experience.

BRIANA OUTLAW

LOCATION

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN MAGICAL

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‘Magical Mix & Match’ is a game within the Anansi ‘s Ring that encourages children to learn through playing. There are two components of the playtime and cultural motif- alphabet matching and math. The alphabet portion of the interactive installment will be and opportunity for children of all ages (4-18) to work on spelling and matching using letters composed of painted discs made from trees. Each piece of equiptment will display a letter on one side and an object on the other that corresponds to each respective letter in the alphabet. Matching comes in to play with a set of painted images on discs that complement the words for each of the letters. Additionally, a set of numbers and math symbols will be on painted discs, which will allow children of all ages a fun way to work on math. PROCESS IMAGES

DESIGN IMAGES

LEARNING THROUGH LETTERS

Adinkra Symbol • Black Star • Cassava • Drums • Ewe • Fufu • Gold • Herbal Medicine • Independence Day • Jembe • Kente Cloth • Loquat Mango • Nana Yaa Asantewaa • Ostrich • Proverb • Quilt • Republic • Spider Village • Taxi • Volta River • Weaving • Xhiosa • Yam • Zongo

LEARNING THROUGH NUMBERS

TAYLOR D. HAMER

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN Anansi’s bridge is designed to transition you from one creative space to another. It elevates you physically but hopefully mentally and encourages looking at the world from another perspective. Made from recycled resources, I want to inspire using nature as a creative resource.

LOCATION

DESIGN PROCESS

DESIGN IMAGES

TODGI DOZIER

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


EDUCATION Anansi’s Ring is a lively space that encourages sensory learning through the use of cultural motifs, cognitive development, and kinetic learning. It is an outdoor learning environment that is restorative and imagnitive in contrast to the academicly focused part of a child’s day. It supports an enriched quality of play that allows children to have liberation fo free play and imagination. The space incorporates both natural and synthetic elements that provide a range of teaching options and developmental needs of children. In addition, the space provides sensory learning that supports cognitive development for children of all ages. (Outdoor settings for playing and learning: designing school grounds to meet the needs of the whole child and whole curriculum, Robin C. Moore)

PLAY ACTIVITIES AND USES The jungle bridge allows for imaginative play, encouraging orientation skills, and hide-and-seek games. The jungle bridge is connected between three trees so it allows climbing which lets children enjoy getting up high and looking over surroundings. Magical Mix & Match allows children to practice spelling, learning or practicing cultural motifs, and basic communication such as the alphabet and numbers. In addition it is layed out in a checkered pattern that promotes skipping, hopping, balancing, and jumping. Stringed calabash instruments give children the opportunity to experiement with sound and touch. Sound wall provides opportunity for young children to enhance motor skills and older children to explore with sound. Webbed wall serves as green wall to educate children about different types of herbs and small medicinal plants. Throughout the web there will be Cedi Beads to label and educate the children about what type of plants are present.

Manpreet Kaur, Zakiya Toney, Briana Outlaw,

NAME Taylor D. Hamer, Todgi Dozier

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


INSPIRATION

After spending time with the girls at the school in Kwahu, we learned that Ghana flags were a common icon for them both in play areas and other places they visit. With that in mind, I chose to make a set of three flags that would tell a traditional African proverb supported by adinkra symbols encouraging teamwork and cooperation as well as cultural awareness and value. I gathered much inspiration from visiting the craft villages and wanted to use a traditional process. I also was very inspired by the African printed fabrics we have seen throughout the country thus far. Lastly, Professor Opoku’s lecture regarding proverbs impacted me greatly. I chose a proverb that would be the center of the flags in which all other decisions would be based off of.

NATALIE SEIBEL

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN

The most effective design elements are always in the details, while they may not be noticed at first sight. Each stamp was hand carved, creating each stamp on the cloth to look different from one another. The top-stitching in yellow thread adds an animated, child-like feature while bringing in more of the color plaette and a linear pattern within itself. Each flag is connected through braided fabric and lastly the overal flag is hung and anchored with bamboo, helping it to feel a part of nature within the park.

NATALIE SEIBEL

Overall, these flags add color and light-heartedness to the park. While they are a finished product that will hopefully stay with the park through many years and events, they also act as a prototype for future accents made of cloth. Most of the elements throughout the park are made of wood and other natural resources. The flags make way for the use of fabric and to learn what parts of the whole are working and would could use some adjustments.

The set of flags is completely mobile. It can be moved to any tree or tall structure in the park for different times of need. While the flags will most often be hung vertically, they could also be hung parallel to the ground as a shelter like form so that children could walk underneath, looking up to the symbols or proverb.

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


EDUCATION

The flags themselves can first be used to open a discussion through the proverb. The proverb has been translated into Akan to further the educational value and relation to culture. With each segement of the proverb is a corresponding symbol who’s meaning can be taught. I have also left the hand carved stamps with the park for future arts and crafts with the children.

NATALIE SEIBEL

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


INSPIRATION INSPIRATION ! ! !

There were ideas about building a corn hole board with rice bean bags for the park, realizing that corn hole was more of just a game than an educational aspect that didn't relate to the culture, I begin to brain storm for more ways I could incorporate the rice bags. After discussing it with Professor Kofi, we talked about how in Ghana’s history they used scales to weigh the gold found in Africa.

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! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Carla Carothers Blackmon

Carla Carothers Blackmon

To build something that was apart of Ghana’s history was also inspired by the group of girls I had the opportunity to talk with at the secondary school we traveled to last week. Each girl in my group drew the Ghana flag on their paper which indicated to me that Ghana’s history and culture was an important part of life to them.

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGNDesign STUDIO 2014 Ghana International Studio 2014


DESIGN

DESIGN

Part of the design was to use as many natural things possible. Blending it in with the park surroundings was important as well as making it stand out to draw the attention and curiosity of the children. It was also an important part of the design to make the scale as balanced as possible without the necessary tools to make sure it was accurate.

Carla Carothers Blackmon

Carla Carothers Blackmon

The scale is designed as being a design element that is both educational and fun for children to play with. The children will be able to learn and gain a knowledge about there culture, mathematics as well as nature by simply interacting with the scale.

The scale is free standing and can be moved to different locations in the park. When it was complete I decided to keep it near the front, in front of the swings and near the craft center.

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014

Ghana International Design Studio 2014


EDUCATION

EDUCATION The scale has many elements that are educational. The materials are the ďŹ rst part of the educational aspect of the scale. It is built from the wood found it the park and uses tree root to cover up any nails that may stick out to avoid any injury to the children. The balance bar is decorated with 4 birds that are found in the park as well as the different tree branches that can be seen in the park as well. The use of the scale is educational in that it draws back to the process of weighing gold in Ghana’s early history, which can be told to the children as they play with the scale. The third educational element of the scale is the playing part. When the children play with the scale it becomes a game to get both sides balance, either using only the rice bags or adding other small objects such as the wooden cede beads. They begin to learn by doing and are being taught how to weigh and balance items outside the classroom setting.

Carla Carothers Carla Carothers Blackmon

Blackmon

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO Ghana International Design Studio2014 2014


INSPIRATION

We were really inspired by the cedi beads we saw in Odumase-Krobo. The beads are made out of recycled glass and sand and they are a valuable part og Ghana’s culture. The recyled glass is broken into fine peices and then heated in a clay template in a hand crafted kiln made of termite mud. The symbolic beads made from tree branches on the site create an educational theme that is based on the tradition of beadwork in Ghana. The Mmofra site hung the beads vertical in the trees to represent the jewelry but when I was sketching the site, we asked what if they were horizontal instead of vertical. We found a perfect alignment of palm trees where we could emphasize the boundaries of the site and create multi-purpose fence. The trees would be perfect for the design because the Mmofra foundation wanted to keep kids from into to the flooded area behind the palm trees. We thought the idea of teaching the kids the traditional purpose of the beads was a great idea but we wanted them to be more interactive. Changing the beads to a horizontal alignment represents a chinese abacus. We got the inspiration for the educational purposes of the assignment from the chinese calculator. Rotating the orientation of the beads helps kids be able to learn the laws of motion, counting, and many more.

NAME Sarah Dickerson & Stephanie Heimstead

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


DESIGN Resulting from our experience in the Cedi Bead village, we decided to make a fence that was decorated with large wooden beads. The fence would not only act as a educational apparatus but also a barrier to keep kids away from a marshy area on the site. It is located near the bathrooms and in the future toddlers play area on the site. We used the prexistant beads on site and cleaned and repainted them. When we started stringing them up we realized that the weight of the beads was going to be an issue. As a result, we placed the heavier beads away from the middle and the lighter beads in the center to keep the line from sagging. We also discovered that the string was stretchy and it took a lot of strength to get it as straight as we wanted it. Later on in the building process, kids came to play on one of the fences we built. They seemed to like to play some sort of race game where they would push the beads as fast as they could scross the string. This rough play could eventually cause the fence to weaken and eventually break. In the future, It would look nicer and last longer if the beads were lighter and we had more durable string.

Above is a render we did to visualize how it would look if it were to be built. On the right is the completed fence.

NAME: SARAH DICKERSON & STEPHANIE HEIMSTEAD Sarah Dickerson & Stephanie Heimstead

GHANA INTERNATIONAL STUDIO 2014


EDUCATION Our main purpose for the beads was to help the kids learn how to count while playing with someting tangible that they could feel and move around. The main precedent for the fence was a chinese calculator or abacus. Each string has ten beads on it that allow the kids to play with and do simple calculations. The kids also have the freedom to create various games with the beads. For example, kids today came over and started playing some sort of racing game. They each pushed the beads as hard as they could to see who could make it to the other end first. Eventually they discovered that the strings had a different slope and they compensated by giving the beads on the line with less slack a slight head start. As a result, these kids were already learning the simple laws of motion. The fence is also constructed of beads that are inspired by the traditional beads made in Ghana. This allows the kids to be exposed to the tradition and culture of their country while in a city setting.

NAME Sarah Dickerson & Stephanie Heimstead

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014


PROCESS

PROCESS

The ideation process began by looking into the mission statement of the Mmofra Foundation, and understanding exactly what it’s goals are. Within that broader context, I could look at the Playtime in Africa initiative, and how that fits into the foundations broader goals. With those goals in mind, I began to create interview questions concerning how the Playtime in Africa initiative helps children discover their potential by learning through play, and the importance of play in a child’s life.

I was inspired by the interviews given in educational videos, like they show on National Geographic or the Discovery Channel. They have interviews with experts in the field, but then the interview goes into a voice over with footage of whatever is being talked about. I wanted to have a similar video structure to that, so I got a lot of interviews with various people on the site, especially Amowi Phillips and Ese Sutherland, the women who have started and are spearheading this initiative. Margaret Mayer

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014

NCSU GHANA STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM 2014

MARGARET MAYER


DESIGN

DESIGN

The flow of the video is set up to showcase interviews, volunteers, and children. The beginning starts with an introduction to the site and its mission, which flows into a voice over while footage of kids playing. Then, as a the voice-over begins to talk about who is working on the site, the video shifts to footage of the various volunteers working and then into interviews with two of the young volunteers, discussing why they think the site is so important. It segways back into footage with a voiceover, and concludes with a concise closing statement on the importance of play in the development of a child’s life.

Margaret Mayer

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014

NCSU GHANA STUDY ABROAD PROGRAM 2014

MARGARET MAYER


EDUCATION The first time we went to the Playtime in Africa site, I had a chance to talked to Ese Sutherland and Amowi Phillips, the women who started the initiative. As we were talking, it became apparent that a big problem for them was exposure not enough people knew about the initiative or understood its intentions. We decided that out of all of the promotional materials that they needed, a video was the most necessary. A video would be able to reach a broader audience than just local schools and friends. The video is a general overview of the Playtime in Africa initiative and site, but more importantly, it is a starting point for other video advertisements. We had talked about Mmofra’s need for crowdfunding, and how the best way to reach out to potential donators was through videos focusing on a specific piece of the site. The theory behind this was so that people who were considering donating to the initiative would know exactly where their money was going to. Hopefully, this video that I have created will lead to more advertising and promotional efforts and widen the foundation’s audience. VIDEO AVAILABLE AT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S7jr46pIGqQ&feature=youtu.be Margaret Mayer

GHANA INTERNATIONAL DESIGN STUDIO 2014

EDUCATION


REFERENCE Context and background readings • Briggs, Phillip (2004 or newer) Ghana Bradt Travel Guide 4th Edition, The Globe Pequet Press, Connecticut • New, Jennifer (2005) Drawing from life:The journal as art, Princeton Architectural Press, New York, USA • Sutherland, Efua (1962) Playtime in Africa, The Murray Printing Company, New York • Children in an Urban World Engagement and process readings • Driskell, David (2002) Creating Better Cities for Children and Youth, UNESCO, London • IDEO (2012) Human Centered Design Kit 2nd Edition • Lassiter, Luke (2009) Invitation to Anthropology, Alta Mira Press, Maryland Art, design, and culture readings • Cooper, Jessica (1997) Ghanaian Mud: The Vernacular Architecture of Ghana, not yet published • Eglash, Ron (1999) African Fractals: Modern computing and indigenous design, Rutgers University Press, New Jersey • Kasfir, Sidney (2000) Contemporary African Art, Thames and Hudson, London • Perani, Judith and Fred T. Smith (1998) The Visual Arts of Africa: Gender, Power, and Life Cycle Rituals, Prentice-Hall, New Jersey • Saarela, Tuuli ed. ArchiAfrika Magazine April 2013 • Smith, Cynthia (2011)Design with the other 90%: Cities, Cooper-Hewitt, New York West African and informal cities • Ananya, Roy (2005) “Urban informality: toward an epistemology of planning”, Journal of the American Planning Association • Brillembourg, Alfredo Feireiss, Kristin and Hubert Klumpner ed. (2005) Informal City: Caracas Case, Prestel, Germany • Chapter 3: The State of Western African Cities, The State of African Cities 2010: Governance, Inequality and Urban Land Markets, UNHABITAT • Salm, Steven J. and Toyin Falola ed. (2005) African Urban Spaces: In historical perspective, University of Rochester Press, New York • The Earth Institute (2011) Urban Development in Accra, Ghana: an implementation toolkit • Thwaites, Kevin (2007) Experiential landscape: an approach to people, place and space, Routhledge, London

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APPRECIATION

We conclude this report with a special note of appreciation to Mr. Komla Stephen Kpogoh, our extraordinary teacher, guide, and friend. His intelligence and grace were essential to the course. 75


Kofi Boone, Associate Professor and Director Ghana International Design Studio 2014 NC State University College of Design Campus Box 7701 Raleigh, NC USA 27695-7001 design.ncsu.edu

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Playtime in africa student report final  

This report covers the student work from Ghana International Design Studio at NC State University, College of Design. The studio worked in p...

Playtime in africa student report final  

This report covers the student work from Ghana International Design Studio at NC State University, College of Design. The studio worked in p...

Profile for kofiboone
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