Artistic research seminar NO FAQ

Digital collage of the event NO FAQ, a colorful structure over the desert
© Elyssa Fleig

From ZKM | Center for Arts and Media:

Master students of the Faculty for Architecture at the KIT present the results of the research seminar »NO FAQ« at Spacecraft_ZKM in the exhibition »Digital Imaginaries«.

»NO FAQ« sees itself as a researching collective in which scientific and artistic approaches are linked. The research and exhibition project »Digital Imaginaries – Africas in Production« served as a theoretical framework for the independent artistic-research practice of the students. The research object of the seminar was »Not Frequently Asked Questions« in dealing with postcolonial and digital contexts. Drawings, photographs, videos and objects created during the seminar will be presented.


Today Agbogbloshie scrap dealers, together with Ashesi University students from Kobby Ankomah-Graham‘s seminar, helped Belgian-Beninese artist Fabrice Monteiro and Senegalese designer Doulsy scout locations for their Prophecy II photo series. The Prophecy I series probed the issue of environmental pollution by evoking spirits of the earth, dispatched to either plead or warn humans to change our ways lest we kill our mother planet. Per panel discussion with Fabrice at Ashesi, the Prophecy II series will be a diptych contrasting the needless excess of planned obsolescence against the devastating human and environmental destruction used to extract the resources from which our electronic devices are produced out of the earth.

It was noticeable and community members confirmed that you now see only smaller stockpiles of circuit boards and plastic monitor cases, for example, because buyers are more consistent and frequent. What AMP affirms about Fabrice’s project is that it is creating a space—mythical but real at the same time—reminding us all to take action now, before its too late to save this planet.


Fabrice testing frames and Doulsy smiling upon a scrap dealer’s reveal of treasure trove of VHS cassette tapes (part of the costume design):


Log of AMP activities


The AMP makers collective has run over 35 workshops to date around the theme of transforming the Agbogbloshie scrap and recycling ecosystem into a network for distributed manufacturing and digital fabrication.

Here is a list of the main events held as part of the AMP series of informal maker workshops to build the future of Agbogbloshie:

Makers and Development

1_M&D Logo

M&D derives as a term from a series of design research seminars conducted at l’École Spéciale d’Architecture (2013-2015), which opened students to participation in a group project to challenge the consequences of technological dependence by remaking Agbogbloshie T.A.Z. conceptually: proposing tools to better equip the dynamic territory that operates outside the bounds, hosting technology’s unmaking and reconstitution. Spaces of unmaking inherently anticipate spaces of remaking; in Agbogbloshie at the end and restart of product life cycles the mantra reduce, re-use, repair, recycle forges its own logic. M&D operates via emphasis on making: each loop of conceptual iteration necessitates another prototype, so participants inherently discover knowledge through the making process. In the case of AMP, the community of makers includes a diverse collection of individuals working not only in Agbogbloshie (e.g. computer repair and refurbishment workshops, small-scale aluminum smelters) but also situated adjacent in the Accra Timber Market (e.g. the carpentry, metalworking, tinsmithy and equipment manufacturers) and distributed further afield (roadside electronics repairers, mechanics, welders, glaziers, furniture craftsmen, seamstresses and tailors city-wide) who make and repair items for a living. (Osseo-Asare and Abbas, 2015)

Makers & Development (M&D) design research seminar at l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Fall 2015: ABDELKADOUS, Mouna + BONGARD, Tomas + BUREL, Clara + CANADAS, MEGIA Pilar + El SOKARY, Amin + FICINI, Elisa + GUIRARD, Vincent + JIAZHEN, Lin + KENNEDY, Laura + KIERZKWOWSKA-KLYS, Maria + KSIKES, Amine + LEFEBVRE, Isabelle + Le NAY, Erwan + ORTEGA, Carla + MIYAJI, Karin + MORBELLI, Delna + POUMAILLEUX, Alexis + SORTES, Thibault + STEPHENS, Amanda + TIBOURKI, Al Mahdi

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Makers & Development (M&D) design research seminar at l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Spring 2015: BASTIAN, Hadrien + CHAOUKI, Sarah + CHEHAB, Hussein + DIENG,  Dior + ESPEJO FERNANDEZ, Adrien, HABIS, Tara + HENRY, Arthur + KHOURY-KLINK, Monica + KOMAR,  Anna + LETINTURIER, Mathieu + PEYRICHOU Ségolène + SKIBINSKI, Dominik + SOUNIGO, Eliott + VINCENT, Marine

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Makers & Development (M&D) design research seminar at l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Fall 2014: COLOMB, Gilles + MARION-ARDALAN, Cyrus + TOSTIVINT, Théo; SEBBAN, Julien; GHABRA, Hania; BALAS, Léonard + WOLF-HANSEL, Ginosar; HIGA, Akemi; KIM, Joongi + KIM, Yongyeob + KWON, Seulkee; ABREO, Daniel; VILLALBA, Joaquin

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Makers & Development (M&D) design research seminar at  l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Spring 2014: Oscar AGUILA, Nicolas BENMUSSA, Charles CLEMENT, Vlad DARABAN, Diana DURAND-RUEL, Sibylle PERRIER, Gautier PIECHOTTA, Edouard REGNIER Maryam SAAD, Ferdinand SIMON

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Makers & Development (M&D) design research seminar at  l’Ecole Spéciale d’Architecture, Fall 2013: Asaf Cem ASFUROGLU, Félix CHICOTEAU, Quentin DEJONGHE, Clément FOREST, Thomas GIROUD, Nolwenn MONTAGNY, Thomas ROBIN

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Graduate Tangi DEFACHELLES who explored the subject of e-waste and Agbogbloshie for his diploma

M&D Fall 2015

This Fall, M&D students investigated the Kiosk Tropical, the exercise was named as such after the very well known Maison Tropicale designed by Jean Prouvé. The goal of M&D courses is to let students experience peer-to-peer / horizontal learning (what happens in makerspaces or FabLabs), understand what prototyping means and learning from prototyping, learn to create open-source manuals so others can build upon their solution, explore designing and building with as little resource as possible and with and for people with no resources (i.e. be smart with the resources at hand, i.e. contribute to the circular economy). Teams had to work on a plug-in to integrate to the frame of the spacecraft. Students had also to create an Afrofuturistic image of the solution imagined.

Students experimented with the following:

  • Prototyping a machine to make PET plastic ribbons out of plastic bottles (TIBOURKI, Al Mahdi + KSIKES, Amine)
  • Hacking a 3D printer to be able to 3D print using PET plastic ribbons made out of plastic bottles (ABDELKADOUS, Mouna + POUMAILLEUX, Alexis + SORTES, Thibault)
  • Investigating a number of Japanese knot techniques to tie bamboo with plastic ribbons (El SOKARY, Amin + MIYAJI, Karin)
  • Designing a prefabricated facade bamboo skeleton using the knots investigated and the plastic ribbons (FICINI, Elisa + JIAZHEN, Lin + KIERZKWOWSKA-KLYS, Maria + Le NAY, Erwan)
  • Designing a facade system that used the facade bamboo skeleton for growing air filtering plants (CANADAS MEGIA, Pilar + GUIRARD, Vincent + LEFEBVRE, Isabelle + ORTEGA, Carla)
  • Prototyping a mechanical water pump for hydroponic farming system used to water the air filtering plants (KENNEDY, Laura + STEPHENS, Amanda)
  • Designing a water filtering system for growing vegetables (BONGARD, Tomas + BUREL, Clara + MORBELLI, Delna), water that also ends-up in the fish tank (part of the hydroponic  and mechanical water pump system).

Thank you to OSSEO-ASARE, Dk, AMP co-founder, for being part of the mid-review. Thank you to CHICOTEAU, Félix and GIROUD, Thomas, former M&D students, for being part of the Final Jury.

Final perspective System 1 M&D 2015 PET Plastic machine

M&D Super Concerned Citizens Special Investigators Series

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This past fall 2014 semester at ESA, students were assigned to become “Super Concerned Citizens Special Investigators (SCCSI)” and make a movie summarizing their findings about e-waste. I am very proud of my students and I thank them for their dedication this semester! I am not uploading the videos because some have used copyrighted sound material… Anyway… Below are their stories:

Pros & Cons

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We tried to investigate how to repair a computer that could be considered as reaching its term of life. After looking quickly into the solutions given to us by asking to a certain number of shops (big corporations and small repair shops) we decided to record ourselves into a journey of finding a solution to this problem. The main thoughts that guided us was; is this piece of electronic built to break down and will it be possible to repair it in order to keep it as long as possible? We began our investigation thinking that all the different shops had the same answer to our problem: by replacing our old device by a new one. After dismantling our device and comparing it to newer product we arrived to the conclusion that trying to perfect a product in its weight or thickness, can, with the time, make it more and more difficult to repair especially by making custom made parts or replacing a simple screw by a weld attachment. We can relate this issue to the new ways of designing objects and architectures today; are we building to last or to replace? Is there a programmed obsolescence in architecture? Can we replace a “Gehry” part as well as a “Prouvé” part?

SEBBAN, Julien
More 2 Recycle

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Love2recycle is a website which proposes a solution to collect electronic waste and sell it through the platform. The company buys the old phones for a cheaper price, repairs it and sells it back to other parts of the world. But, how can I make sure that my phone ends up in good hands when I use online recycling platforms? I decided to make my own research and I called the company. By investigating the system, I found a lack of transparency: phones are going sooner to the trash and it increases the quantity of e-waste.
Who is to blame? Who is responsible? Who cares?
The solutions are terrific in the short term. But wouldn’t it be a little more green if companies encouraged consumers to change consumption habits altogether?
The city has evolved… and we are becoming more and more dependent on the machine. Phones have become the extension of our bodies. People are left aside. Design and technology are excluding the person who doesn’t have access to new products. There is a digital divide which creates a huge discrepancy. The society is designed to exclude you when you don’t have a phone.
How can you pay? How can you call?

Give Way to Giving

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From the moment of purchase of an electronic to the day it is no longer functional, what can we do as responsible consumers to deal with our e-waste. I have looked into my options, and although repairing the object is probably the most popular option to follow, I decided to represent the part of the population with limited technical ability: The non-repairmen and women. Why throw away in the trash when you could give it to someone to make good use of it? The real question is, however, how to find people in need of your e-waste and be sure they are not just another person planning on selling the e-waste for profit? After finding a website that links people willing to give away their object to others willing to take it for their own use, I decided to do a trial and give away my own e-waste. There was instant demand for my iPod, and I was overwhelmed by the number of requests I received. Of course that raised another question: Who are these people requesting my e-waste and which one of them is truly in need of it? With all these unanswered questions, came an interesting twist of events: I realized that my iPod was not broken… it just needed to be charged. Suddenly, I was no longer willing to give away my electronic… This change of heart illustrates the sort of relationship we have with our electronics. We feel possessive of our electronics in their functional state. However, they lose their value once they are broken or out of style. It becomes so easy for us to abandon what we once cherished.

BALAS, Léonard + WOLF-HANSEL, Ginosar
Where Does the E-waste go?

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During our short investigation, we tried to answer a question that bothered us as citizens living in a big city: where does all our e-waste go?
When we started to follow our piece of e-waste from the street, we expected to find an answer to this question. But it immediately became clear that it was not going to be easy. After the many bureaucratic obstacles we encountered, we decided to examine whether and what other citizens of Paris think about the daily waste they throw to the street.
Almost everyone answered the same way. The place where the e-waste travels to is UNKNOWN. Surprisingly, even people who worked for the municipal system did not know about the destination of the waste after they leave it in the street. The most surprising fact we discovered was that nobody seems to care about it…
Life in modern cities enables us to ignore some of its constituent systems, if we prefer not to do so. Impressive facades hide poor neighborhoods, underground systems maintain sewage. Thus, life seems to be easier, compared to the past. Nevertheless, it should not be an excuse for responsibility diffusion. We created this animated movie in order to raise the awareness of people to their property, their e-waste.
By a simple web search it is possible to learn about the terrible pollution in African countries caused by toxic e-waste. The information is very accessible but only few people are interested in that and look for it.
How can we, as responsible citizens, take responsibility and change this undesired situation?
There are many answers to this question. what we want to focus on in the future is how to use design as a tool in order to raise awareness and transparency about the life circle of the product we are using, and not only to know where it goes after its broken, but also how it is working.
As architects and designers, how can we integrate in our design the transparency, and design a product who could tell a story?
When the first computers were invented, people saw them as magic boxes. Today, it seem like it never changes. Our whole life going around our smartphones, televisions and other electronic/electric products, but because everything is hidden behind plastic and glass, we can never understand how this product really works, and people don’t really care about what is inside their machines. Maybe we lost something on the way… maybe it’s the curiosity, or the desire of knowledge. If the product works we use it, if it breaks… we buy a new one.
If we would understand more how our electric product is working, maybe we would care more where they go after they break. Making it invisible to understand and easy to fix can decrease the amount of e-waste in the streets and in poor countries.

HIGA, Akemi
A Laptop Journey in Lima, Peru

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This movie shows the process of recycling an e-waste, in this case a laptop, in the city of Lima-Peru. Because the process took place earlier this year, the story is shown as a kind of chronicle of what happened and the things I learned about the infrastructure and system for recycling available now in Lima. This story takes you with me throughout what I learned in that moment and what I am learning right now about the limits and opportunities for e-waste inside the informal and formal systems simultaneously managed in my everyday live. Starting from getting the laptop, the life spam that it got, the process of recycling it, and the realization that not everything is as simple as one first imagined. The process doesn’t always end where we want it to; and it is up to us to finds alternative ways to deal with the challenges. That is what makes us Super Concerned Citizens Special Investigators.
Architecture here plays the role in two ways: in the overall design of better infrastructure for not only separating and classifying but for actual recycling of technological goods; and as a designer in the questioning of how much of a laptop can be turned into other goods. How can we recycle something that is not designed to be recycled? And even if it is meant to be recycled, how can we accomplished that if the infrastructure doesn’t exist? Who is to blame? The starting point of the process or the last?

KIM, Joongi + KIM, Yongyeob + KWON, Seulkee
Finding the Way to Recycle E-Waste

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How can we decrease e-waste?
When a smart phone part breaks, we usually buy a new phone… and this even if only one component breaks.
Could we make a new product using the working parts of a smart phone? Can this practice of making new items out of working parts of a broken phone decrease the production of e-waste?
We asked an expert about making items out of parts of phone parts.

ABREO, Daniel
Design for (Dis)assembly

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Buy it, use it, break it, fix it, trash it, change it, mail – upgrade it,
Plug it, play it, burn it, rip it,
Cross it, crack it, switch – update it…
In the past few years headphones market have known a fantastic growth with the multiplication of portable players like mp3 players, iPhones, tablets among others. They have since then become a fashion accessory and as a result many brands release new models every season leading people to consumerism and to change their headphones every other month. In many cases they extremely fragile and have a very short lifespan; yet, the truth is that most of the broken headphones work perfectly and you just need to solder the wires together again. But instead the entire product is just thrown away. Is it an intended weakness?
In this video I tried to show how the (Dis) Assembly process of an object can dictate the evolution of this waste chain. I also try to raise awareness of the consequence or our acts and current education. Most of the waste produced in the world is produced by the construction industry. Architects and designers should acquire a basic notion of the way their products work. They should learn not to systematically rely on others. They should enrich their culture and reaffirm their knowledge in their field. Architects and designers should learn to properly analyze a situation to better re-use or repair instead of always starting from scratch.

iFix my iPhone

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As part of a research on e-waste, I decided to investigate what are the possibilities existing with a broken device, in my case, an old iPhone that wasn’t being use because it was damaged. Time is an inevitable degrading factor that must be managed in order to guarantee the longest lifetime of objects. Getting rid of old devices is not a solution, because that it is moving the e-waste from one place to another, and because this devices are actually still useful; therefore my final goal was to keep the phone in a usable condition. The idea is that everything is going to get damaged and old with time, and the solution is not to be afraid and get rid of the products or get new ones, but to foresee and maintain. Time is the agent that can make an antique of an old car, but it can also cause structure to rust. The solution is to reach for the tools we need, and that are not given to us, to apprehend the influence of time. We are powerful among creations and not the other way.

M&D Final Review

The M&D final review took place at l’ESA on Friday June 13! Edouard Cabay, teaching the RE- studio at l’ESA, was our special guest on the jury. Teams of students presented four projects: a hydroponic micro-farm, a water distillery, a gas mask and a project to map Agbogbloshie using AMP flickr data.

The micro-farm to grow tomatoes and the water distillery used fridge remains (e-waste parts to be found on the dumpsite). Both teams considered as much as possible the context, hence the scale of the projects, DOWN-SCALED to AMP UP! These micro-architecture or “urban robots” as we, AMP founders, like to call them (Also in homage to Japanese architect Toyo Ito, whose first architectural firm was called as such), are seeds for change because they allow for appropriation and replication (anyone in Agbogbloshie should be able to).

The aWEARness gas mask would help raise awareness of health problems due to burning the wires and was to be co-designed with the community in Agbogbloshie. The latest prototype uses papier maché technique so the mask could fit every single e-waste worker and could be decorated [or augmented/AMP-ed up?!] using e-waste parts.

hydroponic teamPoster by Oscar AGUILA (right), Nicolas BENMUSSA (left) and Charles CLEMENT (middle)

distillery teamPoster by Gautier PIECHOTTA (right) and Ferdinand SIMON (left)

awearness team

awearness 2

awearness 1aWEARness mask prototypes by Sibylle PERRIER (middle), Edouard REGNIER (left) and Maryam SAAD (right)

Video of the MAP.US concept presented by Vlad DARABAN and Diana DURAND-RUEL

Archibots: Re-making Agbogbloshie (intro session)

The first session of the Archibots workshop came off as scheduled on the May 30th 2014. The event was well attended by people from various disciplinary backgrounds. There were engineers, architects, CAD technicians, business men & women and lecturers as well as from various nationalities, such as Spain and the Netherlands. This was the introductory session for Archibots, a design workshop to prototype architecture robots for Agbogbloshie.  As part of the event, all three collaborating organizations (tap, AMP and MESH) made presentations on what they do. AMP co-lead DK Osseo-Asare, introduced participants to Agbogbloshie E-waste circuitry, which is the context for the architecture robots to be designed and the key design concepts as far as AMP is concerned. Some of the videos that were selected to provide inspiration for participants can be found here . The team is eagerly awaiting the next phase which is the design session scheduled for June 7th 2014 at Hub Accra. This promises to be just as exciting as the May 30th event. Thanks to our friend and ally, media partners MESH Ghana for compiling footage of the event, which can be found at Archibots: Remaking Agbogbloshie.


M&D Mid-Review

Dk Osseo-Asare, Low Design Office principal and AMP (Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform) co-founder was in Paris for the M&D mid review (Semester 6 course taught by Yasmine Abbas) carried out in parallel with that of Make (S5 course taught by Marie Aquilino). Having conducted fieldwork in Agbogbloshie for over 6 months and with his 7 years of experience working on the informal sector, community participation and kiosk culture, Osseo-Asare provided students with invaluable insights on usability, community needs and buy-in. Amongst the numerous projects presented were a hydroponic micro-farm (using old refrigerators) to grow tomatoes (S6), a “water distillery” to extract cleaner water from polluted rain water (S6), a gas mask called “awearness” to provide protection against toxic fumes (S6) and a concept for a green wall to create safer enclaves in Agbogbloshie (S5). S6 Students had to show early prototypes and a poster (akin to those presented at scientific conference) to explain their design.

M&D mid review

hydroponic Prototype of a hydroponic micro-farm by Oscar AGUILA, Nicolas BENMUSSA and Charles CLEMENT (S6)