‘Engage Ghanaian architects to redesign Accra’

BY: Emmanuel Bruce
 Mr William Halm
Mr William Halm

The Principal Architect of Spektra Global, a Ghanaian Design-Build firm, Mr William Halm, has urged the government to engage competent Ghanaian architects to redevelop the city of Accra into a modern city.

He said Ghanaian architects and urban designers were better positioned to understand the nuances of the city of Accra and could do a better job.

“Ghanaian architects are capable of designing and planning our own cities and the government needs to understand our abilities and create opportunities for growth for our own architects,” he stated.

Mr Halm made the call in an interview in Accra at the weekend following the government’s decision to engage a Singaporean architect and planner, Dr Liu Thai-Ker, to oversee the remodeling of Accra into a modern city.

The challenges that are expected to be solved over the next 50 years in the re-planning of Accra involves easing traffic congestion, environmental pollution, poor housing, communicable diseases, and rural-urban migration, among others.

While lauding the decision of the government to remodel Accra, Mr Halm said using Ghanaian architects will feed into the government’s desire for a ‘Ghana Beyond Aid,’ thus creating more jobs within the economy and building local capacity.

“Ghana Beyond Aid’ should also be seen from the perspective of being free from aid in all sectors, including consulting work.

Our architects and urban planners are capable of solving the planning challenges of our cities given the same support and resources,” he noted.

“This was the heartfelt desire of the first President of Ghana, Osagyefo Dr Kwame Nkrumah, when he said ‘the black man is capable of managing his own affairs.

We need to use our own architects to solve our problems. Ghanaians are capable, we are intelligent,” he added.

National design competition

Mr Halm also pointed out that the redevelopment of Accra could have been procured through a national design competition, which would afford architects and urban design professionals in Ghana the opportunity to present proposals.

“All over the world, new massive projects are sometimes procured through design competitions.

Ghana can also initiate a national competition for the re-design and planning of the capital city, thus giving opportunity to Ghanaian professionals to display their competences as well as contribute to the development of the country”, he said.

He stated that in the Czech Republic, the Prague City Council initiated a national design competition for the redevelopment of a portion of that city.

Similarly, in May 2018, the Korean Land and Housing Corporation initiated an international urban design competition for the Tongyeong Dockyard in order to regenerate the neighbourhood into a more vibrant urban area.

“In Kenya, UN habitat and Kenya’s Ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development initiated a collaborative design competition to seek planning and creative ideas for sustainable urban development in Kenya.

Thus, Kenyan professionals were involved in providing solutions for their own cities”,he added.

He said the government could have used the same process to select architects for the project.