Joe Osae-Addo


Development is decimating our neighbourhoods. There’s pressure on these heritage properties, on the land, and families are very eager to get rid of these colonial buildings because there’s no government policy to protect them. In cities like New York, there are tax breaks to make it worth your while to keep your building. There is a certain kind of building that captures modernity and affluence, and it’s highly influenced by South African architecture. They have nothing to do with our climate, our context and our culture. It looks like something that’s not from here. It’s aspirational. And it’s beyond the means of 98 percent of the population. One of the Africa’s challenges is that design is not on the development agenda. Design skills should be used to develop opportunities with a sustainable impact.

Learn More


Traditional Architect, Conservationist, Urban Economist & Urban Designer

Joe Osae-Addo was born in Ghana, West Africa, and trained at the Architectural Association in London. He worked in Finland, the United Kingdom and the United States of America, setting up his practice in Los Angeles in 1991. His work has been influenced by ‘genus-loci’, and how architecture can/should respond to this in creating pieces which are both site specific and meet the needs of people who will inhabit or interact with it. He is a founding partner in the A + D Museum, Los Angeles, whose mission is to advance knowledge and to enable people to appreciate and understand architecture and design. He moved back to his native country Ghana in 2004 and is currently the CEO of Constructs, an ‘inno-native’ design firm based in Accra and Tamale in Ghana, and in Washington D.C. and Los Angeles in the USA. He synergizes architecture, urban planning, landscaping, and building technology into a single unit geared towards bringing modern architecture and building techniques to create ‘inno-native’ design solutions to contemporary African architecture. His firm has expanded its mandate to become a think tank of sorts, to engage in the discourse of economic development in Ghana and Africa as a whole. They have become self-described ‘design-socio-economists’, using architecture as a platform to engage in projects ranging from re-branding of towns and cities, product design (as an economic empowerment tool) to targeted urban planning initiatives.

Addo’s architectural ideas and innovative views focus on the way traditional organic building methods infiltrate in strictly urban surroundings and the way public space is vitalized and regulated in order to function more efficiently in a social and economical way. Playing these themes, Addo will also show some of his own recent eco-housing designs. His passion for alternative materials and context derived solutions for architecture and product design will surely form an inspiring example for the Dutch public that franticly searches for sustainability in urban planning and architecture. Addo’s key issues are eco-housing projects, affordable state housing projects, bamboo prefab systems and street improvement projects that describe his ‘inno-native’ approach. Joe has worked closely with ArchiAfrika over the last three years and he is currently the Chairman of the Board of ArchiAfrika, a platform that initiates and facilitates research and projects on the terrain of African architecture and architecture in Africa. ArchiAfrika was founded in 2001 by a group of architects who, through the development of educational opportunity and economic growth on the continent, were eager to re-define the urban landscape of the African city. He was appointed as a member of the Holcim Awards Jury for region Africa Middle East in 2008 and 2011.