‘It was and still is my considered opinion that the Durban 2014 World Architecture Congress is setting a unique precedent in exploring the future of our Continent’s built environment rather than the regrettable past that Africa has endured for so many years under colonialism. It is this objective that drove me to Strasbourg in October 2012 to convince the World body that Africans cannot be reduced to being “spectators to their sister’s wedding,” to use President Omisore’s words.

Our plea for varied festivities organised through our respective African Government Departments of Arts and Culture, should leave the attendees with a real and lasting African experience. It is about the future of our profession, as well as the future of our continent.

Otherwhere, ‘ou autrement-ailleurs’ en francais, is a word that does not exist in any language. It is specifically crafted to focus the minds of delegates and speakers alike to envisage a global future that we have not begun to foresee, and the crucial role that Africa has to play in that future. This is the opportunity for ‘making the case for Africa’ in the minds of international delegates and decision makers.

It is about firmly driving the message:

  • that Africa is a place to be reckoned with in the world when it comes to true innovative thinking within the built environment
  • Africa is incredibly fertile in breeding top class intellectuals, conceptualising original and affordable solutions to address the global broader sustainability imperatives,
  • Lastly, because the social component of the sustainability equation is particularly prominent and urgently demanding.

Africa’s time has come, I urge you all to continue being part of shaping the way the world is looking at our
beautiful and diverse continent!

May I once again wish the AUA Council every success in her endeavours’.
Merci beaucoup

Thank You
Sindile Ngonyama Pr. Arch; MIArch.
SAIA President


Africa Union of Architects celebrated her 33rd Anniversary

Africa Union of Architects celebrated her 33rd Anniversary on May 23rd 2013, which also coincided with the 1st Anniversary of the re-launching of her Newsletter.

We use this opportunity to thank you for your support, encouragement, contributions, well wishes and active participation to the success of this letter of information whose aim is to provide all cadre of Architects in Africa with a platform for mentorship, networking, grants, exchange of programs for Schools of Architecture, as well as a common ground to inter-relate.
We also wish to emphasize that this platform is yours to benefit from and utilize without reservation in order to promote African home-grown ideas, ideals, concepts and products.

Kindly send your articles, thoughts, quotes, ideas, pictures of architectural pieces, etc. that you wish to share to our Editorial Team to enrich ( our Newsletter.

Welcome on Board.


The Architects’ Council of Europe signs a Memorandum of Understanding with the Africa Union of Architects

Memorandum of Understanding

Memorandum of Understanding

On the occasion of its General Assembly, which took place on 24 April 2014 in Padova (Italy), the Architects Council of Europe signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Africa Union of Architects, represented by the President, Mr. Tokunbo Omisore. Having regard to the long standing ties that exist between them, and convinced that a reinforced cooperation will help to consolidate actions and efforts towards addressing mutual concerns and Interests pertaining to architecture, architectural education, research, professional mobility, environmental issues, professional development and professional practice, the two organizations agreed:

1. To rationalize the resources of the Parties in pertinent activities at all levels;
2. To reinforce the capacity for action of the Parties towards third parties;
3. To explore opportunities for joint positions and / or joint actions of the Parties towards third parties;
4. To co-operate in lobbying activities, if and when appropriate;
5. To invite and encourage reciprocal representation at their respective working bodies;
6. To share information of mutual interest;
7. And finally, to undertake to establish and concretely define a closer co-operation at political, technical and working levels.

Both Organizations commit themselves to preparing a Mutual Recognition Agreement that will set the rules for their respective members to practice on the two continents.

Read the complete text of the Memorandum of Understanding on the ACE website

WUF7 MEDELLIN – 07th – 11th April 2014: Notes by G. Siew

Arc. Gaetan Siew

Arc. Gaetan Siew

Competence, Resources, Leadership, Governance, Resilience, Climate Change, Innovation, Inclusivity, Participation, Dialogue. These keywords were repeated over and over like a mantra throughout the week at the World Urban Forum of Medellin or WUF7 for those who affectionately named it. It was a unique opportunity for all to help to solve some of the basic
and fundamental problems challenging us.
Paradoxically it was very refreshing in these days of global crisis to feel and perceive a general note of optimism among the 22 000 participants from 164 countries. Said in different words, WUF7 MEDELLIN – 07th – 11th April 2014:
Notes by G. Siew these notes of optimism were on the lips of everyone from mayors to activists, industry, professionals and most importantly among the youth. The feeling was contagious. A few years back UN-Habitat celebrated the World Day of Habitat as Cities – Magnets of Hope. Today it would seem that they have gone beyond the concept of hope, they are really becoming drivers of development and of the economy. They have become the place to integrate all solutions ranging
from sheer common sense to the latest innovation of technology. From magnets of hope they have become Cities of Opportunities.
People are convinced that we have the resources and capacity to do it and to make the planet a better place to do it.
This strongest message was that cities are on the rise as economic centres, centres of innovation and centres of learning. When asked how they will achieve that, most answered through “inclusivity”. Each presented it in extremely different ways. They ranged from Asker, Norway, a city near Oslo, with its strong economy and social welfare state, to Goma, The Congo, which has just emerged from civil war and where the most basic problems such as clean water must be addressed; from Seoul, South Korea, where tradition had led to the marginalisation of women, to Johannesburg, South Africa, where millions live in shanty towns and remain in extreme poverty.
Not surprisingly, we learned that ways to achieve inclusivity, and therefore opportunity, varied from city to city, based on size, economy, politics, infrastructure, location, history, etc. Asker-Norway by a broad-based democracy through non-stop dialogue.
Goma-Congo through investment in its youth.
Technology came in as a natural enabler. However most stakeholders associated the human factor to it. In short, all were enthusiastic about new technology but not fanatics. It was clearly stated from all sources that technology and statistics often Ignored the intuitive and important human factor. The concept of integration was mentioned over and over without using THE word. It was understood as people working together, information sharing, designing single solutions to multiple problems.
George Ferguson, (an Architect) the Mayor of Bristol has understood very well the lesson and has transformed his city in 18 months with the human factor and Leadership. He is nominated to be one of the best Mayors in the world just like Jaime Lerner, former Mayor of Curitiba (another Architect!) Other abstract concepts such as Truth, Beauty and Trust were intuitively felt as essential although they cannot be scientifically proven. More intuition and less data; all accumulating to a collection of small differences, but important ones. It was repeated
through various forums, discussions and debates that three factors were essential for a liveable city – social engagement, open mind diversity and beauty!
At the end, I perceived that the unsaid objective of it all was Cities for Life, a Better Life. A city they would be proud of. I am one of those, an Urban Optimist.

OMA Silver Jubilee Celebration



On Saturday 1st March 2014, Mali Order of Architects celebrated her 25th Anniversary with the theme: “Promoting Traditional African Architectural Heritage, Peace & Development”.
The ceremony took place under the distinguished chairmanship of the newly appointed Prime Minister of Mali Republic, His Excellency, Mr. Moussa Mara, (the then Minister for Habitat and City Policy during the event), in the presence of Mr. Mohamed Ali Bathily , Mali Minister for Justice and AUA President, Arc. Tokunbo Omisore as the Special Guest of Honour of this prestigious event.
The 40-Member Countries of the Africa Union of Architects join the President in congratulating His Excellency Mr. Moussa Mara, on his new appointment as the Prime Minister of Mali, and wishes that his term in office will take Mali to greater heights.

After the meeting, AUA President presented the points adopted during the Strategic Council of the OMA Members, on 2nd February 2014, which were adopted by Mr. Lazare Eloundou, the Representative of UNESCO Office in Mali, as follows:

  • Regarding the upcoming event of the 14th March 2014, Messrs. Ahmadu Bore & Issaka Timbely of AUA & OMA respectively, will contact the Malian Ministry of Culture to implement the suggestion of the AUA President as follows:
  1. The Order of Mali Architects (OMA) will work closely with UNESCO team to rebuild and understudy the fourteen (14) Shrines destroyed in Timbuktu and environs.
  2. OMA President, Mr. Issa Timbely, the AUA Vice President West Region, Mr. Amadou Bore, and others will attend and support the UNESCO reconstruction activity on 14th March 2014 in Timbuktu.
  3. The requested Resident Architect(s) to understudy and supervise the reconstruction works process will be provided by the OMA at a reasonable remuneration to UNESCO.
  • The proposed plan to integrate modern and traditional African Architecture, through a “Special School of Architecture” to be developed in Mali in the nearest future by OMA with the support of the AUA and her 40-Member Countries. Mr. Gaetan Siew , the AUA Trustee and Chairman, Visions & Strategy, will take this up with UNESCO on behalf of the AUA and the OMA especially the proposed Competition for the Reconstruction of the Monument Al Farouk destroyed in Timbuktu.
  • The AUA plans to showcase the African Architectural Heritage in Mali at the upcoming UIA Congress in Durban, 1st – 10th August 2014. This will be achieved with the assistance of Ms. Firdaous Oussidhoum, the AUA Director External Relations and the OMA.

At the Conference held to mark the 25th Anniversary of the OMA the AUA charged the Malian Architects with the task to:

  • Support the protection and promote the awareness of the African Architectural identity through the heritage deeply rooted in Mali.
  • Understudy the traditional African Architecture of Timbuktu and its cultural values.
  • Join the AUA rebranding of the African Architecture and exhibit the traditional African Architecture of Timbuktu and environs at the International Union of Architects Congress in Durban August 2014.

For more information on the above, the AUA recommends the book (cover shown to the left) written by Mr. Eloundo Lazare, the Uneconomical Chief-in-Charge of Heritage in Africa now posted to the UN Office in Mali.

AUA President’s Message to all on the upcoming UIA 2014 Congress


The 25th International Union of Architects World Congress, UIA 2014 Durban, will hold at the International Convention Centre in Durban from 3rd – 7th August 2014. This is the first time that this Congress will hold in Africa and 6000 delegates are expected from around the world. The International Union of Architects (UIA) organizes a World Congress every three years, and there have been 24 previous UIA Congresses.
The current standard Registration Fee (R4500) has just been extended for another month till 31st May 2014, after which the fee will increase. I strongly encourage ALL section members to attend!
The Congress theme, ‘architecture OTHERWHERE‘, will celebrate diversity by exploring other communities, other regions, other disciplines, and other ways of thinking about, practising and teaching Architecture. The intention is to acknowledge the built environment as a major force that may be harnessed towards a better life for all – through the sub-themes RESILIENCE, ECOLOGY and VALUES.

For more information or to register for the Congress visit
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Arc. Gaetan Siew

Arc. Gaetan Siew

Arc. Gaetan Siew has been appointed by the UK Government as Non-Executive Director on the Board of Future Cities Catapult, UK, chaired by Sir David King, Special Representative on Climate Change, Foreign and Commonwealth Office. A Professor at the Cambridge University and previously Government Chief Scientific Advisor, he is the only Architect and non-UK citizen, to occupy such office.
Please join me in congratulating our honorable member for this wonderful achievement and the new height he is carrying our profession into. We wish him all the best and much more success in his new office.
The Future Cities Catapult is a global centre of excellence on urban innovation. A place where businesses, universities and urban leaders come together to develop solutions to the future needs of cities:-

  • Enabling platforms for urban innovation and instrumenting the city; essentially, the infrastructure (hard and soft) that needs to be in place for a city to be smart. This will include open data platforms and policies, networks of sensors and urban laboratories.
  • Spotting and supporting breakthrough ideas by working with start-ups and the academia to spot the innovations which can be supported, scaled and applied in the city context. This will include challenge competitions, match-making and providing business support.
  • Testing and proving new approaches through a Cities Lab and Pilot projects, proving the value of applying 21st Century
  • approaches to city problems. This will include urban big data, rapid prototyping, and city pilots.
  • Unlocking finance and developing investable propositions. There is no shortage of money available for investment; there is
  • shortage of opportunities in cities and yet the resources are not flowing. This will include working with the finance community on innovative financing mechanisms as well as working with cities on investable propositions.

We are partnering with Microsoft, Cisco, Intel, Schneider and other cities such as New York, Singapore, Sao Paulo and Moscow.


Dear Colleagues and Members,
With support of partners and cities, the most used and widely appreciated handbook “How To Make Cities More Resilient: A Handbook For Local Government Leaders” is now available in multiple languages.This handbook provides Mayors, Governors, Councillors and other Local Government Leaders a generic framework for risk reduction and points to good practices and tools that are already being applied in different cities for that purpose. It discusses why building disaster resilience is beneficial; what kind of strategies and actions are required; and how to go about the tasks. It offers practical guidance to understand and take action on the “Ten Essentials for Making Cities Resilient” as set out in the global campaign “Making Cities Resilient: My City is Getting Ready!” to which 1678 cities are now participating.

You can download the handbook, from the following links –





The international competition for young Architects in Africa opened on 13th October 2013 and closed for registration on 15th March 2014. Winning entries will be exhibited at CA’ASI during the International Architecture Biennale, holding from 7th June – 23rd November 2014.
This competition is a unique opportunity to showcase the important role played by Africa today, as seen through its contemporary Architecture. An international jury will meet in Paris at the end of March, to select the winners and runners-up.

The awards ceremony will hold in Venice where the winners will be invited to present their projects at CA’ASI, during the 14th International Architecture Biennale, including the exhibition during the event.

For more information, follow link:




The Durban International Convention Centre (ICC) in South Africa, will open its doors to host the UIA International Congress, DURBAN 2014 on Monday 3rd August, 2014.  The Congress will end on Friday 7th after which the General Assembly will meet between Saturday 8th till Monday 10th August 2014.

The prestigious International Convention Centre (ICC) is one of the most advanced conference facilities in the world and has the largest area of column-free, flat-floor, multi-purpose space in Africa.  The ICC has been named Africa’s Leading Meetings and Conference Centre from 2001 – 2006, and 2008 – 2010 by the World Travel Award and has been voted among the top 10 Congress Centres in the world (2004 – 2006) by the International Association of Congress Centres (AIPC).

UIA2014 Student Competition Deadlines are as follows:

  • Projects Submitted: 31st March 2014
  • Adjudication Starts: 7th April 2014
  • Shortlisted Teams Announced in May 2014
  • Winners announced at UIA2014 Durban Congress in August 2014

The event proper will be in two parts:

  • WORLD CONGRESS holds from Monday 3rd to Friday 7th of August, 2014
  • UIA GENERAL ASSEMBLY holds from Saturday 8th to Monday 10th of August, 2014. For more information on DURBAN 2014, please visit