A3 / Archives of African Architectures, a project led by Nigerian architect Baba Oladeji, aims to create multimedia archives documenting African architecture across the continent. The project focuses on heritage at risk, regardless of time period and regardless of cause. According to Oladeji, there are important contemporary projects that may never be fully realized in spite of their architectural merit, and there are historic sites that are forgotten and left to ruin. He argues that when these projects are un(der)documented, a culturally important part of a community's collective memory risks being lost to oblivion. Risk factors that cause this are diverse, including changing aesthetics and construction techniques, natural and manmade disaster, conflict, neglect, inaccessibility, gentrification and development, banditry and vandalism. A3 already has a vibrant online presence and is actively developing mobile-friendly online presence that will bring architecture alive to the local community. The aim, according to Oladeji, is to foster a popular appreciation of architecture and "a culture of archiving" that ensures knowledge of the built environment remains accessible for generations.
The African continent is underrepresented on Archnet. Addressing that has long been a priority for me as Archnet Content Manager. We have made great strides in relation to the Maghreb, but progress has been slower from the Sahel southward. As of this writing, 60% of the 2,579 Archnet sites located on the African continent are in the 5 countries bordering the Mediterranean Sea. I am very enthusiastic about A3's ambitious initiative because it allows Archnet to address this imbalance by offering a platform for this important scholarly project. The Aga Khan Documentation Center, MIT Libraries (AKDC@MIT) has agreed to support A3 with training and a repository for the digital documentation they produce. Mr. Oladeji and his team will be the intellectual curators of this project, and developers of the content contained within this collection. I am excited they have chosen us to host this content, and I am eager to offer whatever help we can provide.
Additional thanks are due to MIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI), to the Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab (J-WEL) for their support of this project, as well as all the scholars and practitioners involved in the project. You will enjoy getting to know them as this collection develops.