The AMP team guided Archibots: Remaking Agbogbloshie design participants through Agbogbloshie by first introducing them to the the executives of the scrap dealers’ association. We proceeded through Rauf’s shop, where large volumes of refrigerators are processed, to the National Youth Authority Building, through dismantling and processing sites, past the areas where copper cables are burnt and all the way to the plastics recycling sector near the International Central Gospel Church.
Back to Hub Accra (thanks for hosting us!), the fun could begin! After hearing a brief introduction about AMP (DK Osseo-Asare, AMP co-PI) and the objectives of the design workshop (Juliet Sakyi, TAP: Build founder), participants brainstormed about possible architecture robots for Agbogbloshie and its population. Sam Yusuf, who hails from Agbogbloshie and currently works with AMP on interviews and GPS mapping, also attended in order to share some of the ideas with informal sector community. MESH has prepared a video showing highlights of the event.
Amongst the multitude of ideas that emerged, participants chose to pursue investigating the following: SMOKEYBOT – a robot that reduces the smoke in Agbogbloshie by grinding and processing copper wires ; SOLARBOT – a mobile tent, with a capacity to harvest solar energy, detect light and intelligently self adjust to provide conducive working environments ; SPIDERBOT – a zoomorphic robot with the ability to collect, transport and process large volume of e -waste at a time and a POWERSUIT – an apparel for humans, with the capacity to read, interpret and transmit biological data to the wearer, boost physical performance and contain computing capacity.
Teams self-organized once more to each tackle one of the 4 ideas selected. In the future a swarm of similar architecture robots could be used to terraform the electronic landscape…
So the adventure isn’t finished yet… Participants have expressed their interest in following-up with M&D – Making and Development. AMP is actually formalizing a 3 week summer workshop, so stay tuned!
Are you interested in technology? Do you like making things? Does environmental pollution bother you? Have you ever imagined the future as something awesome?
Are you a student or recent graduate in the fields of science, technology, engineering, art, mathematics, planning, architecture and design, or environment and natural resources?
Apply today to be a part of this year’s AMP QAMP, a three-week camp for young makers in Accra.
Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) is a collaborative project to upgrade the quality of life and environment at Agbogbloshie, the largest e-waste ecosystem in Ghana. AMP is an experiment in design innovation and youth-led M&D (makers & development). The short-term goal is to design and build a makerspace for the hyper-local context of Agbogbloshie, together with an open-source technology platform to support its operation. The long-term goal is to rehabilitate the environment of Agbogbloshie and to help green the community’s current recycling practices. We believe this can happen through the site’s transformation into a network for more advanced materials processing and small-scale distributed manufacturing. AMP as a open-source project seeks to create an alternate convention that partners e-waste, scrap and recycling industry with the technical know-how and social entrepreneurial framework to remake the landscape themselves, over time.
AMP contends that (domains of) architecture and electronics have converged. At such a moment—if we capitalize on this opportunity to make open, democratic and collective the capability of manipulating materials from the level of chemistry up, by means of digital technology, we can move beyond the notion of “e-waste”. Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE or 3E)—old or new—constitute a vital stream of raw material for the global production chain. Not only are such 3E-materials in reality the physical building blocks of electronic landscapes and digital space, but many are also recyclable, i.e. plastics, steel, aluminium, copper, glass or other valuable materials. If successful, AMP will amplify the economic potential of Agbogbloshie and Ghana’s makers.
AMP QAMP is a series of informal maker “camps” to build the future of Agbogbloshie. The primary session of QAMP for 2014 runs from the 1st to the 20th of July in Accra, Ghana.
Participants will work collaboratively as part the AMP makers collective to address key aspects of building an ecology of makers in and around the Agbogbloshie e-waste stream, from the ground up. We are interested in young people who are proactive, intellectually curious, open-minded, imaginative, detail-oriented and able to work in teams.
If interested, please submit a cover letter to firstname.lastname@example.org by June 30th including the following information: Area of Specialization / Course of Study (year of graduation); Digital Media and Graphics Software (with level of proficiency); CAD/CAM and 3D Modeling Software (with level of proficiency); Programming Languages (with level of proficiency); and Fabrication Experience (sewing, cabinetry, furniture-making, jewellery, glass-blowing, welding, circuit board etching, breadboarding, etc.) Short-listed candidates will be scheduled for in-person interviews starting the week of June 23, 2014.
AMP approach contends that (domains of) architecture and electronics have converged. At such a moment — if we can make open, democratic and collective the capability of manipulating materials from the level of chemistry up, by means of digital technology, we can move beyond the notion of “e-waste”. Electrical and electronic equipment (EEE or 3E), old or new, constitute a vital stream of raw material for the global production chain. In particular, while there is fundamental overlap with the elemental “stuff” of digital space, it is equally important to note that the majority of EEE materials* are generally recyclable such as plastics, steel, aluminium, copper, or other specialized or high-value materials.
Re-making Agbogbloshie is a collaboration between Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) and The Architects’ Project (tap:). The workshop seeks to design and prototype practicable architectural interventions — at the level of equipment — that can inform the discourse of industrial landscapes like Agbogbloshie scaled through kiosk-size 3E materials processing machines, i.e. micro-industrial digital fabrication bots.
Re-making Agbogbloshie design workshop is an exploration of small-scale architectural interventions that operate more than as kinetic micro- shelters — they additionally include “robotic” or electronic systems and tool/equipment functions. The workshop seeks to design “architecture robots” that could assist humans in processing 3E materials, phytoremediation of the contaminated landscape and actively supporting the Agbogbloshie lifecycle.
Agbobloshie: Every year, tons of electronic waste arrives on the shores of Ghana. A huge proportion of this deluge of e-waste flows through Agbogbloshie, where a vibrant community of e-waste workers and makers reuse, recycle and upcycle end-of-life electrical and electronic equipment. However, some of the crude methods used for dismantling e-waste and processing scrap (such as burning wires and cords to recover the copper) are highly polluting: they negatively impact the health of e-waste workers and have led to Agbogbloshie’s notorious position as “the most polluted place on Earth” for 2013, according to Green Cross Switzerland and the nonprofit Blacksmith Institute (USA).
E-waste: E-waste or Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) is typically portrayed as highly toxic old computers, televisions, etc. that are “dumped” in poor countries by rich countries, in violation of the Basel Convention (an international treaty which expressly prohibits such forms of international transhipment of WEEE). While it is true that e-waste contains hazardous materials, and that improper handling and disposal of these materials can greatly pollute the environment and compromise public health, it does not negate the fact that the materials embedded within e-waste are incredibly valuable. In fact, e-waste — considered pound-for-pound as a “raw material” of the global production chain — is among the most valuable on the planet: one ton of old mobile phones has 100X the concentration of precious metals like gold and silver than does an equivalent amount of ore mined from the earth.
Architecture: Usually when most people think about (the practice of) “architecture”, they think about high-end residences or large-scale projects. In Africa, these are typically the only kind of construction projects (along with smaller interventions by the government and NGOs) that have large enough budgets to pay the professional service fees of architects. This leaves the majority of workers and construction works on the continent, which occur in what social scientists call the “informal sector”, outside the design domain of architects, or the scope of formal architecture. The point of departure for this workshop is to propose that this default strategy for Africa’s built environment misses the point. If to date architecture has had limited success in re-configuring the African terrain, perhaps it is time to invert the approach: try to introduce innovation at the bottom, and let it spread.
* EEE- or 3E-materials: Consider electrical and electronic equipment, at all condition levels, as a raw material for global production chain. 3-E materials are a broader and more inclusive range of materials compared to e-materials, e.g. electronics materials based on silicon or other semiconducting materials, and such materials in aggregate, i.e. a circuit board.
For the past few months, the AMP team has engaged e-waste workers within Agbogbloshie. This time, on Saturday the 26th of April, the team organized its latest workshop intended to initiate the conversation with the STEAM world, who form a critical part of the AMP platform. Eventually, these professionals will come together with the e-waste workers and makers in Agbogbloshie to form the AMP makers collective. The knowledge that these professionals bring to the Agbogbloshie site will be useful for achieving AMP targets such as empowering makers to handle e-waste according to best practices and enabling makers to upcycle e-waste into value-added products.
The agenda was to:
- Introduce AMP to the STEAM world, and invite them to apply for summer internships.
- Engage students in hands-on projects that involved building a paper spectroscope, dis-assembly of a microwave oven, a printer and a fan.
The workshop took place at the lower lecture hall of the Physics department in the University of Ghana, Legon. Students from the host physics department, as well as chemistry, computer science and psychology students attended. There were also students from the architecture department of the Central University College. In all, there were 50 participants.
The workshop started with an introduction of the AMP team, followed by an interactive session, during which members of the AMP team engaged in conversation with the students.
After the interaction and lecture, participants were divided into four groups and made to work on the various projects. Each team documented the brand, the year of manufacture, and all other information they considered relevant. They were required to state to the best of their knowledge, which components were in the equipment and to what other uses these could be put.
We discovered that students from the physics department in particular had a fundamental awareness of the nature and uses of parts, as well as how these contributed to the total functioning of the equipment. After this session each team presented its findings to the larger group of participants.
Upon the completion of the workshop, participants by way of evaluation, passed on comments such as:
The program was insightful and inspirational. I am very happy I came and met other brilliant students and how they agitated minds to think critically. A great experience that will stay with me a long time.
A successful workshop in my opinion. I learned a lot and I am happy to know that such great ideas are being implemented. As I leave, my mind is racing through ways I can contribute to this positive revolution.
See photos on Flickr : STEAM Photos
Here is a link to the summary published on Issuu
Today students were also working on building a fly’s eye dome / shelter out of tires (gathered from garages around Paris!). The idea was to imagine/experiment/prototype how to upcycle all the tires to be found around the digital dump. Two pictures – can’t wait to see how this holds:
Thank you Dk Osseo-Asare for your input.