ISSN: 1477965X
First published in 2003
3 issues per volume
Volume 12 Issue 2-3
Cover Date: December 2014
Cut and paste
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Authors:  Lesley Lokko 
DOI: 10.1386/tear.12.2-3.219_1

Keywords
architecture,diaspora,hybridity,translation,speculation,design research

Abstract
mim•ic•ry (n.pl.mim•ic•ries)
1. (a) the art, practice, or art of mimicking;
(b) an instance of mimicking.
2. Biology: The resemblance of one organism to another, or to an object in its surroundings for concealment and protection from predators. In evolutionary biology, mimicry is a similarity of one species to another, which protects one or both. This similarity can be in appearance, behaviour, sound, scent or location. Mimics are typically found in the same areas as their models.
The pervasive condition of African architectural education and practice is one of mimicry, in which students and architects are (sub-consciously) driven to copy ‘solutions’ posed by practitioners outside the continent, most typically European or American, whose understanding and experience of Africa is often limited in nature. Wired, switched-on and connected, current and future young African architects are able, at the click of a finger, to peruse the ‘appearance, behaviour and [even] scent and sound’ of buildings and architectural projects that they may never experience ‘in the flesh’, but whose form, material and programmes are multiplying across the continent in ways and places that their original ‘makers’ could not possibly have imagined. Maboneng is now ‘the Manhattan of Africa’; Kigali its Singapore. Unlike biological mimics, in this context a ‘cut-and-paste’ approach neither protects nor conceals: it simply exposes. As far back as 1997, the Dutch architect and theorist, Rem Koolhaas, argued that it had become increasingly important for architects to operate on a level independent of architecture in order to understand, at the most basic level, the phenomena affecting the development of architecture and the city. In this article, rather than treat ‘cut-and-paste’ as pastiche, a quick-fix intervention that solves the ‘problem’ of original thinking, a new proposition for An Architectural Brief, for An (as yet) Unnamed African Architectural Student, in An (as yet) Unnamed African Location is proposed which fuses art, culture and digital technology to demand a radical, post-Afro urban example.
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