The Nineteenth Annual Berkeley Undergraduate Prize for Architectural Design Excellence 2017
Berkeley Prize 2017

Abidi Ali Travel Proposal

Immerse in Africa... and build with the earth of its land

Since my childhood, I was strongly attached to African stories; and despite the little information I know about the southern countries of the African continent, I always liked the tones of the music… the African dances… even the colors and the textures ... I even remember my small achievements in the clay modeling workshop at my primary school: small clay sculptures, fluid, one would say inspired by the silhouettes of African constructions.

In the course of time, and during my university course in the National School of Architecture and Urban planning of Tunisia, I focused very much on the subjects of african architecture, with all that it presents of richness, and with all stories that one can discover, stories and images related to the Individuals communities who live far from the big cities, and who still retain all ancestral know-how and traditions, through their architectural manifestations; their little houses of clay, straws and sometimes bamboo.

Unfortunately, these subjects are rarely addressed in our university program, even though we are a North African country, and our history is strongly linked to the African cultural heritage.

After my participation in the essay competition, and with the subject I addressed, my attachment to the discovery of small communities is increased. It is for this reason that I have focused my research on travel opportunities that can help me to enrich myself, to discover a country or a corner of the world with little media coverage, as well as to live with its people and to discover its secrets.

After many researches and investigations, the choice was made upon an event on Ghana: This is an international workshop dedicated to professional artists and young students of architectural and design universities. As well as every person that believes that is possible to create a more human and sustainable environment. The workshop will be held in the village of Abetenim, in the Ashanti Region of Ghana, from the 2nd June to the 25th August, 2017. The main goal of this event is to promote local building techniques and to demonstrate to the Ghanaian people that their traditional earth buildings are more suitable, beautiful and durable than imported “westernized” models, "InsideOut" proposes a sustainable and easily replicable project that strategically combines well-established building traditions and the skills of the local community.

For my personal case, it is an interesting chance to develop my researches, and to integrate them in my thesis work that I am aiming to do next year, which falls within the theme of the valorization and the experimentation of traditional constructions techniques.


Like other aspects of African culture, is exceptionally diverse. Many ethnic groups throughout the history of Africa have had their own architectural traditions.

In some cases, broader styles can be identified, such as the Sahelian architecture of a zone in West Africa. A common theme in traditional African architecture is the use of small parts of the structure that tend to resemble larger parts, such as a circular village made of circular houses.

As with most architectural traditions, architecture in Africa has been subjected to many external influences from the earliest eras. Western architecture has also had an impact on coastal areas since the late 15th century, and is now an important source for many large buildings, especially in large cities.

African architecture uses a wide range of materials. There are structures in thatch, wood, mud, clay brick, clay and stone, with preference for different materials by region: North Africa for stone and clay, Horn Africa for dry stones and mortar, West Africa for mud / adobe, Central Africa for thatch, wood and more perishable materials, South-East and Africa For stone, thatch and wood…

"Earth Architecture International Workshop", Ghana 2017:

In this workshop, a team of volunteers from around the world will meet to build InsideOut, a prototype of a sustainable school in participation with the local community. As a participant, I will be part of an international team and will be able to follow every phase of the project, learning new humanitarian design skills and immersing in the local Ashanti culture through site analysis, field trips and working alongside the local community on the construction of the project; the project that was designed by Andrea Tabocchini and Francesca Vittorini, second prize winner of the "4th Earth Architecture Competition" and winner of the 2017 "Archi-World Academy Award". It will be, without doubts, an opportunity to gain experience in sustainable building techniques and to understand more about humanitarian design while building a worthwhile project that will have a huge benefit to the local community and local wildlife.


The workshop organizer is Nka Foundation, and there is also a series of official partners which is continuously increasing. Among them, “Marche Politecnic University (UNIVPM)”, its “Department of Architecture & Building Engineering (DICEA)” and “Build To Make A Change”.


InsideOut is a humanitarian project and therefore its construction costs will be covered by sponsors and by participants themselves. For this reason, participants are kindly asked to contribute toward the project through a project contribution of 427 $ which will be used to cover the costs of the construction.


The cost of the air ticket: 937 $ (Tunis – Accra Kotoka) with a stop on Morocco. (Royal Air Morocco) Departure › Sunday, 2nd July 2017. 3rd July: Arrival to Accra Kotoka. (Spending the night at Movenpick Ambassador Hotel Accra ): 23$ 4th July: Arrival to Abetenim Arts Village (42$ VIP Bus Service Transfer)

Attending different phases of the workshop until 23th July. The site analysis will be done inJune (during that period, I have classes in my university, and I will be up to date with the team of the workshop) 5th-23rd July: Rammed Earth prototypes; walls construction. 1st week of August: Roof framing and covering + Interiors and landscaping.

7th August: Visiting the famous “Kumasi Zoo”, Kumasi, Ghana 9th August: Visiting the city of Cape Cost and discovering its famous monuments, and also beautiful waterfalls. The visit of these villages and cities will also allow the discovery of many architectural monuments and museums, such as, “Fort Batenstein” and “Fort Crève Coeur”. 12th Return to Accra. Return Monday, 13th August.

The estimated budget for the Workshop period in Abetenim (Food, Housing, 20days) = 42$ per day. 1260 $

From the 7th to the 13th July, 60$ per day, 400$ *Museum Tickets and Transport is included in the day cost.

Visa Fees is average: 140$ (payed in the Honorary Consulate of Ghana in Tunis, TUNISIA) Address (Rue de l'artisanat, Charguia 2, BP 151, 2035 Tunis Cedex, Tunisia.

Total is average: 3230 $


Facebook page: InsideOut Architecture Workshop


Nka Foundation : (NKA Foundation is a non-profit organization particularly active in West Africa that focuses on a sustainable growth of communities and human capital).

Additional Help and Information

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The Poster of the Workshop
The Poster of the Workshop
Manhyia Palace Museum
Manhyia Palace Museum
Fort Batenstein
Fort Batenstein
Abetenim Arts Village
Abetenim Arts Village
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