Habitat Unit

December, 09 6.00 pm | A 151, Institut für Architektur, TU Berlin

Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa

Film Screening (25 min) & Discussion

The Ife University campus in Nigeria was founded in 1960 as an extraordinary architectural counter-vision to former British colonial education policy, for the first post-independence university in Nigeria to possess an architecture faculty. This documentary film by Zvi Efrat explores the planning and design of the campus by the eminent Israeli architect and Bauhaus disciple Arieh Sharon. It shows the current state of its built ensemble (now known as Obafemi Awolowo University), in which the visionary combination of architecture and land-use planning responsive to cultural, social and climatic context is still very much in evidence today, and continues to be used and appropriated by teachers and students alike. Sharon’s adaptation of modernist-brutalist idioms to the local Yoruba culture, and his radical interpretation of British tropical architecture, created a rare ensemble of climatically sustainable open structures and flowing spaces; in effect “architecture without doors,” operating as a vibrant social and academic environment up to the present time. In relation to contemporary architectural discourse and practice, the Ife campus can be appreciated as a moderately intricate model of “passive architecture” and “soft spaces,” one that does not rely principally on external energy and mechanical systems and which blurs the habitual boundaries between interior and exterior, formal and informal spaces.

This documentary is part of the exhibition project bauhaus imaginista, in combination with the symposium Decolonizing the Campus at the University of Lagos, with the support of the Goethe-Institut Nigeria.


Urban Talk #23 Zvi Efrat 

Zvi Efrat, architect and architectural historian, is a partner in Efrat-Kowalsky Architects (EKA). He was head of the Department of Architecture at the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem, taught at several universities, and curated numerous exhibitions, among them Borderline Disorder (Israeli Pavilion of the 8th Architectural Biennale, Venice, 2002), and The Object of Zionism (Swiss Architecture Museum Basel 2011). In his most recent book, The Object of Zionism: The Architecture of Israel (2018), Zvi scrutinizes Zionist spatial planning and the architectural fabrication of the State of Israel as a singular modernist project—unprecedented in its relative scope and rates of growth, its political and ethical circumstances, and its hyper-production of spatial and structural experiments as signifiers of national vigour and cultural ingenuity – and presents a critical examination of the role of Sharon’s architecture and settlement projects in the process of building an Israeli national identity in the early years of the state.

The office of Efrat-Kowalsky Architects (EKA) specializes in the design of museums and in the reprogramming and reuse of existing structures. Among recent projects of EKA are the design of the performing arts campus in Jerusalem, the renewal and expansion of the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, and the preservation and new additions to the City Museum of Tel Aviv.


December, 09 | 6:00 pm

A 151
Architecture Institute
TU Berlin
Straße des 17. Juni 152
10623 Berlin