Keren Kuenberg “Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa” OAU Ile-Ife

“Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa” short documentary film

Research, production and photography for the documentary film directed by Prof. Zvi Efrat.

Commissioned for the “Bauhaus Imaginista” exhibition as part of “100 years of Bauhaus” at the Haus der Kulturen der Welt (HKW) Berlin, and exhibited in London Festival of Architecture, Unilag Lagos, OAU Ile-Ife, SALT Beyoğlu and screened in worldwide festivals including the online platform MUBI.

The film, Scenes from the Most Beautiful Campus in Africa, documents and explores the planning and design of the Ife University campus (known today as Obafemi Awolowo University) in Nigeria, by the Israeli architect Arieh Sharon. Founded in 1960 in protest against British colonial education policy, Ife was the rst post-independence university in Nigeria to possess an architecture faculty. Arieh Sharon trained at the Bauhaus school in Dessau and worked at the architectural office of Hannes Meyer in Berlin for the design of the Trade Union School in Bernau before he returned to Palestine in 1931. There, he became the leading architect of the local Trade Union Federation and in 1948 he was appointed head of Israel’s State Planning Authority.

His involvement with the Ife campus spanned about two and a half decades, from 1960 until the mid-1980s, and was part of Israel’s development aid program. Sharon’s adaptation of modernist-brutalist idioms to the local Yoruba culture, and his radical interpretation of British tropical architecture, created a rare ensemble of climatically sustainable open structures and owing spaces; in effect “architecture without doors,” operating as a vibrant social and academic environment up to the present time. In relation to contemporary architectural discourse and practice, the Ife campus can be appreciated as a moderately intricate model of “passive architecture” and “soft spaces,” one that does not rely principally on external energy and mechanical systems and which blurs the habitual boundaries between interior and exterior, formal and informal spaces.

Link to the film
Wallpaper magazine article
New York Times article
Bauhaus Imaginista project website
The exhibition in HKW
Decolonizing the campus lagos conference
Docaviv film festival
London Festival of Architecture

[film, exhibition, archive, photography]