The High Life is a counter-proposal for developmental strategies in Gamashie, the historic core of the Ghanaian capital Accra. A project by Jesse Honsa, Pratyusha Suryakant, Federica Zatta and The Berlage.
Nominally defined as a slum, the culturally-rich district Gamashie is today under threat as western-style private developments encroach upon the terrain, often welcomed under the guise of “slum upgrading”. Other actors wish to preserve the romantic allure of the area at the cost of human suffering. This project provides an alternative to the two, legitimizing the innate qualities of the neighborhood while combatting its quantitative 'slum' problems.
Architecture With a Plan
As part of Architecture With a Plan –The Berlage’s investigation into the roles of masterplans in various global contexts–, The High Life avoids the trap of the top-down plan, employing a 'forensic' method to research the existing conditions of Gamashie’s alleys, streets, interiors and squares; to forecast the risks to its heritage posed by untethered capitalistic development; and to make a counter-proposal that enhances existing qualities while addressing issues of density, sanitation, building quality and economy. Using UN-Habitat’s quantitative standards as a basis for design, it outlines a set of strategies: a closed-network sanitation system, multiple-story collective housing clusters, and the development of new building techniques with vernacular materials. Aided by a catalogue of deployable tactics, The High Life does not aspire to a masterplan as a fixed and definitive form, but nevertheless implies the formation of new local institutions that continually manage these systems.
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