Doreen Adengo, founder of Ugandan-based practice ‘Adengo architecture’ was a female Ugandan architect who was a star, rising in the world of design and architecture in Uganda, Africa, and across the world. Founding Adengo Architecture in 2012, Doreen was a registered architect both in the U.S. and Uganda. She had earlier completed her undergraduate degree from the Catholic university and her graduate degree from Yale University and later went on to work for design firms in London, New York, and Washington DC working with prominent architects like Sir. David Adjaye of Adjaye Associates and Robert A.M. Stern of Robert A.M. Stern Architects. She also went on to teach at the New school and Pratt Institute in New York, Uganda Martyrs University, and at some point, she served as a visiting critic at the University of Johannesburg’s Graduate School of Architecture.
Project Bujuuko Schools | Adengo
Bujuuko schools located in Bujuuko, Uganda are a series of modern one-story buildings. According to the site’s sloping topography, these have been placed per that, and a series of terraces which are formed by the land’s grading offer outdoor space between the buildings, and these act as spaces for children and community members to gather, play, and even garden. Having the country’s climate in mind, passive design techniques were employed to ensure comfort in the interiors and at the same time, a rain harvesting system to store water for use in the dry seasons was put in place. Since the community spends most of its time outdoors, the design also aimed to capture this pattern by providing a continuous relationship between the interior and exterior of the school.
Besides architectural work, workshops, and exhibitions where she collaborated with numerous people from other fields, Doreen Adengo went ahead to write about timely topics that were of concern or even affecting the key players in the design and architecture field, especially in Kampala and Uganda at large. Some of these articles brought about radical change and were even featured on numerous outstanding platforms like Archdaily, Dezeen, Canadian Centre for Architecture, RIBA Journal, Architect Magazine, Sam Fox School Publication, and The New Vision among others.
She was also featured in a number of articles on various platforms like Rethinking the Future among the outstanding and influential female architects of color in our time, recognized by Archdaily in celebration of International Women’s day, 2022, and Doreen was recognised as one of the present established practitioners that were influencing change in the world, In Dezeen, she was nominated as part of the celebration of Black History Month, 2022 and in the Architect magazine, she was profiled in Next Progressives. She went ahead to feature and participate in different podcasts, talks and other creative platforms.
Some of Her Outstanding Projects and Collaborations include, Workshops
African Modernism (October 1, 2018-October 5, 2018)
During the African modernism workshop, Doreen worked with German architect Manuel Herz and Kenyan photographer James Mariuki. This workshop explored the relationship between architecture and photography and this birthed an exhibition that featured photographs of modernist buildings in Kampala city. This exhibition was curated by Doreen Adengo and co-curated by Manuel Herz. “it’s my hope that through this exhibition, we can spread awareness about the importance of these buildings so that they can be preserved and protected.”- Doreen Adengo
Global Urbanism Studio 2020 (June 1, 2020-June 12, 2020) | Adengo
Seeing that 2020 was the year when many countries were trying to survive COVID-19 by taking the precautionary measures that were issued by the World Health Organisation WHO, Uganda as a country took a step to issue nationwide lockdowns and these laws were enforced across all sectors in the country. This workshop focused on markets and it analyzed how they had to adapt to the guidelines issued by the government. Innovative ways of representation were explored like film, photography, mapping, interview extracts, and architectural drawing. Using Nakasero market, one of the oldest and most vibrant markets in Kampala city, the team observed and documented how they were able to operate in the market innovatively as a sage public space. The collaboration was between Uganda Martyrs University Nkozi, Faculty of the Built Environment, and Sam Fox School of Design and Visual Arts, Washington University.
The above workshops and many others went ahead to be exhibited in Kampala and other cities. In 2020, African Mobilities was exhibited in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2018-2019, African Modernism was exhibited in Kampala, Uganda, in 2018, African Mobilities was also exhibited in Munich, Germany.
Design Philosophy and Language
Adengo Architecture as a practice was established and grounded in research and multidisciplinary collaboration from the very beginning and so Doreen Adengo focused so much on communicating the value and need for professional design services in African cities seeing that the number of architects per the population in these cities is alarming which means that non-designers often build their own homes and other structures. She believed that it was critical to making a case that architects alongside Urban planners can improve people’s everyday lives hence helping cities develop and grow sustainably and she wrote about the ‘Role of architects in providing affordable housing solutions’ in the daily monitor article of 6th February 2017.
Seeing that she was also focused on finding better ways to communicate design, Doreen collaborated with institutions and individuals from different fields and all this was to find a new way to better communicate design in Kampala. Through these collaborations were birthed outstanding projects and exhibitions that have greatly impacted the face of architecture both in Uganda and the world and made many people rethink what they knew about design, space, Urbanism, and even the mere role of an architect in societies like ours and because of this, she will not be forgotten.
Projects African Mobilities | Adengo
The African mobilities project/ exhibition saw her and her team exploring the impact of Congolese migrants on the Kitenge fabric in Kampala. With a combination of photography, film, cartography, and architecture, this project sought ways in which the Congolese traders and tailors in Kampala are transforming the built environment. While working at multiple scales, Doreen and her team considered the impact of Kitenge trade at the global, regional, city, and even neighborhood levels while focusing on the 3X3 meter shop units that are connecting points for the Congolese refugee traders to the fashion industry globally.
Death is such an unexplainable event that will see someone go and be forgotten or it will see someone go and be remembered in so many ways and for so many things. Legacies that live on stem from people that intended to not just influence a small circle but people who wanted to see and influence change that would go on even beyond what they could imagine.
Doreen Adengo saw Uganda and its architecture cross borders and be known elsewhere. Her willingness in the first place to bring her practice back home and her knowledge and skills to other people is sign enough of how far she wanted change to go. Looking at her projects, collaborations, exhibitions, and everything she was involved in points you to how close to her heart architecture was and this wasn’t just about the built environment but we can all attest to the fact that there was more and that change was coming. She was a force to reckon. We can all agree to that. She left a mark on so many people’s lives and that is something that will not be forgotten. Her legacy will live on, that’s for sure.
Adengo Architecture. (n.d.). BUJUUKO SCHOOLS. [online] Available at: https://www.adengoarchitecture.com/bujuuko-schools [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
Adengo Architecture. (n.d.). Articles. [online] Available at: https://www.adengoarchitecture.com/articles [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
RTF | Rethinking The Future. (2020). 15 lesser-known influential Architects of color you must follow. [online] Available at: https://www.re-thinkingthefuture.com/rtf-fresh-perspectives/a1123-15-lesser-known-influential-architects-of-color-you-must-follow/?fbclid=IwAR0Cnyz5g-wdrq5RIaBXs9Z6u4J-dXGk05i51175pghHbqE4neo7Xz9JJ78 [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
Adengo Architecture. (n.d.). African Mobilities. [online] Available at: https://www.adengoarchitecture.com/african-mobilities [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
Adengo Architecture. (n.d.). Exhibitions. [online] Available at: https://www.adengoarchitecture.com/exhibitions [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
Adengo Architecture. (n.d.). Adengo Architecture. [online] Available at: https://www.adengoarchitecture.com/ [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
Architectmagazine.com. (2023). [online] Available at: https://www.architectmagazine.com/project-gallery/african-modernism-kampala-workshop_o [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].
KQ (2018). Doreen Adengo on the role of the Architect in the Creative Industry — KQ. [online] Medium. Available at: https://medium.com/@kq_hub/doreen-adengo-on-the-role-of-the-architect-in-the-creative-industry-kq-e8f7e9843c15 [Accessed 23 Jan. 2023].