Extracts from a West African Utopia with Killian Doherty & Edward Lawrenson

Extracts from a West African Utopia with Killian Doherty and Edward Lawrenson, 13 December, IAF HQ

Two talks on 13 December: 1pm or 6.30pm.
To book a place please email shauna@architecturefoundation.ie

In the early 1960s a Swedish mining company began building a settlement in northern Liberia to accommodate workers at a nearby iron ore mine. Within only a few years this housing programme had transformed into a fully functioning town called Yekepa. Built along Scandinavian lines but located in the remote highlands of Liberia, Yekepa soon became a symbol of the utopian promises attached to the West’s investment in the natural resources of a developing nation.

But as the iron-ore reserves became depleted, Yekepa fell into disrepair, a ghost town haunted by the memories of past prosperity. Now partly repopulated by workers of another mining firm, Yekepa has returned to life, but its fortunes are starkly dependent on the price of iron-ore on the world market.

At the beginning of this year architect Killian Doherty and filmmaker Edward Lawrenson visited Yekepa to chronicle its unusual history and uncertain future. Having spoken to past and present residents of Yekepa – both in Liberia and in Sweden – they are making a documentary about the town. Introducing a short filmed extract from this work-in-progress, Doherty and Lawrenson will discuss the project and what the architecture of the town says about the complex relationship between extractive industries and the mineral-rich developing world.

To book a place please email shauna@architecturefoundation.ie

Image: Killian Doherty

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