Principal Architect / CEO
The Principal Architect and Co-founder of Spektra Global, Mr. William Halm, has acknowledged the decision by government to redevelop the city of Accra into a modern city as a forward move, since the nation’s capital evidently needs to be planned and properly maintained.
However, Mr. Halm believes the redevelopment of Accra could have been procured through a national design competition, which would have afforded architects and urban design professionals in Ghana to present proposals for the planning of Accra. This follows government engagement with Singaporean architect and planner, Dr. Liu Thai-Ker, to oversee the remodeling project, a move which has been criticized by sections of the public as breaching architecture practice and procurement regulations in Ghana.
According to Mr. Halm, all over the world new massive projects are sometimes and preferably procured through design competitions, hence it was proper to have also initiated a national competition for the re-design and planning of the capital city, and with a panel of experts to judge the competition entries and select a winning entry thus giving opportunity to Ghanaian professionals to redevelop the city.
He stated that in the Czech Republic, the Prague city council initiated a national design competition for the redevelopment of a portion of their city. Similarly, in May this year, the Korean Land and Housing Corporation initiated an international urban design competition for the Tongyeong Dockyard in order to regenerate the neighborhood into a more vibrant urban area.
“In Kenya, UN habitat and Kenya’s ministry of Transport, Infrastructure, Housing and Urban Development initiated a collaborative design competition to seek planning and creative ideas for sustainable urban development in Kenya. Thus, Kenyan professionals were involved in providing solutions for their own cities,” he said.
The challenges that are expected to be solved over the next fifty years in the re-planning of Accra involve the high traffic situation, environmental pollution, poor housing, communicable diseases, and rural-urban migration among others.
In light of this, Mr. Halm said Ghanaian architects and urban designers understands the nuances of the city of Accra better than anyone else and are more so, “capable of designing and planning our own cities and government needs to understand our abilities and create opportunities for growth for our own architects.”
He said using Ghanaian architects highlights the importance of the local content policy in the delivery of the developmental agenda of Ghana and which obviously feed into the government’s desire for a ‘Ghana beyond aid’ thus creating more jobs for the economy.
“Ghana beyond aid should also be seen from the perspective of being free from aid in all sectors including consulting work. Before we can get there, we would have to give opportunity to our own architects to design and develop our own cities. Our architects and urban planners are capable of solving the planning challenges of our cities given the same support and resources. This was the heartfelt desire of the first president of Ghana; Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah when he said ‘the black man is capable of managing his own affairs,’” he said.
He added: “We need to use our own architects to solve our problems. Ghanaians are capable, we are intelligent!”