The Uganda Architecture fame, Architect Doreen Adengo passed away recently on the 22nd of July after suffering from an illness for a prolonged period of time. She was referred to as the “Pillar of the design industry in Uganda” in one of the statements by her studio ‘Adengo Architecture’.
“Doreen will be remembered for her friendship and kindness, her talents and integrity, and as a pillar of the design industry in Uganda and beyond”.
Born in Uganda in 1976, the architect pursued her architectural education in the United States, finishing her bachelor’s at Catholic University, followed by her master’s degree at Yale University. Later, she gained much of her experience working on projects in the United Kingdom, Europe, and the US. Apart from the professional in-field experience, Adengo was also a lecturer at the New School and the Pratt Institute in New York, Uganda Martyrs University, and the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture, educating and sharing her experience with the future generation of architects.
On returning to Uganda, the architect established her own architectural practice, Adengo Architecture in the year 2005. The studio particularly emphasized disseminating the value of design and architecture in African cities. It aimed to broadcast the importance of architects and urban planners in bringing about a change in the everyday lives of people by helping in the improvement and development of sustainability of the cities. During a talk titled “The Role of the Architect in the Creative Industry”, she highlighted the misunderstood role of architects in Ugandan society referring to them as mere ‘drawers of plan’ (translated from the local language).
Nevertheless, her firm designed and delivered everything ranging from furniture design to carrying out research and advocacy on the regional and urban levels. Adengo worked on a wide range of project typologies including the design of schools, social housing complexes, and mobile medical clinics by incorporating elements to increase the sustainability of the buildings such as solar panels and water harvesting technologies. In addition to this, she also involved herself in a couple of conservation projects with the Uganda Museum being one of her key projects. Designed and built by Ernst May in 1954, one of the first modernist buildings in Kampala and the first ever purpose-built museum in the entire country. With the museum being threatened several times with demolition, Adengo along with some of her partners came up with a conservation plan for which she received a conservation grant in 2020.
Doreen took great initiatives, making people explore Ugandan architecture and urbanism and spreading awareness by conducting numerous workshops and exhibitions at the Goethe Zentrum in Kampala and the Architecture Museum at the Technical University of Munich. She contributed to a research project at the Canadian Centre for Architecture as an Andrew Mellon Fellow working on the postcolonial perspectives of Architecture in Africa. Her belief lay in improving the inclusivity in architecture, involving, and giving opportunities to a greater number of people to express their respective versions and perspectives of architecture. Adengo’s project at the CCA (Canadian Centre for Architecture) proposed to tell the story of the Modernist buildings in Kampala from the different perspectives of the local users, understanding how the buildings have changed to adapt to the needs of the contemporary city. Her project consisted of interviewing several past and present users. Earlier this year, the architect was also seen sharing her experience and discussing her work briefly on post-colonial architecture in Kampala at Brown University.
She is often described as the trailblazer setting forth a new standard in the fields of architecture, design, and planning. Adengo was nominated by the cofounders of a Nairobi Architecture studio – Cave Bureau as “One of the fourteen designers and architects you should know”. The studio acknowledged and appreciated her ability to enhance her contemporary projects with a historical depth. On account of International Women’s Day this year, she was recognized as one of the established practitioners implicated in change by Arch daily. One of the best-known projects of Adengo is the Bujuuko School comprising a cluster of single-storey buildings. In the agricultural region of Bujjuko in Uganda, the design of this school provided a seamless relationship between the indoors and the outdoors blurring the boundaries between the same. This enabled the community to spend sufficient time outdoors while relaxing indoors in the evenings.
Doreen Adengo, a woman architect par excellence has indeed left her imprint on the architecture society through her work, contributions, and amazing skills. As rightly mentioned by her studio on her demise, her legacy will truly live through all those with whom she has interacted and inspired either through her practice, advocacy, or academic preaching. Today, the entire design and architecture society mourns encountering this tragic loss of a passionate architect.
- Finney, A., 2022. Ugandan Architect Doreen Adengo dies aged 45. [online] dezeen. Available at: <https://www.dezeen.com/2022/07/29/doreeen-adengo-ugandan-architect-dies-45/> [Accessed 31 July 2022].
- Makovsky, P., 2022. Architect Doreen Adengo Dies at 45. [online] Architect. Available at: <https://www.architectmagazine.com/design/culture/architect-doreen-adengo-dies-at-45_o> [Accessed 31 July 2022].
- Harrouk, C., 2022. Doreen Adengo, Progressive Architect from Uganda and Founder of Adengo Architecture Passes Away. [online] ArchDaily. Available at: <https://www.archdaily.com/986010/doreen-adengo-progressive-architect-from-uganda-and-founder-of-adengo-architecture-passes-away> [Accessed 31 July 2022].
- Medium. 2022. Doreen Adengo on the role of the Architect in the Creative Industry — KQ. [online] Available at: <https://medium.com/@kq_hub/doreen-adengo-on-the-role-of-the-architect-in-the-creative-industry-kq-e8f7e9843c15> [Accessed 31 July 2022].