david adjaye plans the new edo museum of west african art in nigeria

david adjaye plans the new edo museum of west african art in nigeria

adjaye associates, the architecture firm led by sir david adjaye, has shared its preliminary design for the new edo museum of west african art (EMOWAA). the museum project forms part of a new initiative that seeks to rediscover the history of benin city — the capital of edo state in southern nigeria. the museum is being developed to house west african art and artifacts, including the ‘royal collection’ — the world’s most comprehensive display of benin bronzes. in addition, galleries will be dedicated to contemporary arts, responding to and engaging with current issues and supporting the region’s contemporary arts community.

david adjaye edo museum
all images by adjaye associates

 

 

the EMOWAA will also be the site of a major archaeology project, which is set to get underway in 2021 and involves a wide range of partners including local communities, the benin royal court, the government of edo state, and the national commission for museums and monuments (NCMM). the archaeological excavation forms part of an initiative titled ‘rediscovering the history of benin’, which was announced by the legacy restoration trust (LRT), the british museum, and adjaye associates.

david adjaye edo museum

 

 

adjaye associates will undertake the initial concept and urban planning work on the new museum, and assist in the assembly of a team of professionals in nigeria. the firm’s vision is to use archaeology as a means of connecting the new museum into the surrounding landscape, by revitalizing and incorporating the surviving remains of the historic city’s walls, moats, and gates. the museum also recognizes the importance of the site’s existing archaeological remains. consequently, the digging of the foundations will require careful excavations to prepare the site for the new museum building.

david adjaye edo museum

 

 

the new EMOWAA draws inspiration from the region’s historical architectural typologies and establishes its own courtyard in the form of a public garden, suitable for gatherings, ceremonies, and events. ‘the galleries float above the gardens and are articulated by a series of elevated volumes — an inversion of the courtyard typology — within each of which sit pavilions which take their form from fragments of reconstructed historic compounds,’ explains adjaye associates. ‘these fragments allow the objects themselves to be arranged in their pre-colonial context and offer visitors the opportunity to better understand the true significance of these artifacts within the traditions, political economy and rituals enshrined within the culture of benin city.’

david-adjaye-edo-museum-of-west-african-art-designboom-1800b

 

the EMOWAA and the archaeology project are part of a wider scheme to revitalize the cultural core of benin city and to aid in its economic revitalization. driven by the governor of edo state, godwin obaseki, the vision is to realize a world-class museum, art gallery, and research center which will collectively be known as the edo museum of west african art (EMOWAA). ‘benin city is an ancient city with an incredible richness of artifacts and ruins that could and should form the bedrock of a center for research, education in archaeology, art, curation and preservation,’ says governor godwin obaseki.

david adjaye edo museum

 

 

‘I am humbled and deeply inspired to design the new EMOWAA, a project that will establish a new museum paradigm for africa,’ continues david adjaye. ‘from an initial glance at the preliminary design concept, one might believe this is a traditional museum but, really, what we are proposing is an undoing of the objectification that has happened in the west through full reconstruction. applying our research into benin’s extraordinary ruins, the city’s orthogonal walls and its courtyard networks, the museum design reconstructs the inhabitation of these forms as pavilions that enable the recontextualization of artifacts. decoupling from the western museum model, the EMOWAA will perform as a reteaching tool — a place for recalling lost collective memories of the past to instill an understanding of the magnitude and importance of these civilizations and cultures.’

david adjaye edo museum
floor plan / level 0

 

 

the archaeology project commences in 2021 and will continue for a period of five years to enable the timely construction of the museum. initial work will involve extensive consultations with, and input from, local stakeholders — residents, historians, artists, and members of craft guilds — in a series of workshops, to help establish local priorities and interests. initial archaeological work includes surveys of the museum site and the wider surroundings (LIDAR and geophysical surveys), to more fully understand the sub-surface remains and to help target excavations. the focus of excavations and fieldwork will be at the new museum site and in the immediate surroundings. excavated objects will become part of the EMOWAA museum collections and displays, and all objects will remain in nigeria.

david adjaye plans the new edo museum of west african art in nigeria
floor plan / level +1

david adjaye plans the new edo museum of west african art in nigeria
roof plan

david adjaye plans the new edo museum of west african art in nigeria
section

david adjaye plans the new edo museum of west african art in nigeria
section

 

 

project info:

 

name: edo museum of west african art (EMOWAA)
location: benin city, nigeria
architect: adjaye associates

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