Foreign Affairs I

Bärbel Müller
Architecture, [applied] Foreign Affairs
2018W, Seminar (SE), 2.0 semester hours, course number S02405


[applied] Foreign Affairs is a laboratory investigating spatial, infrastructural, environmental and cultural phenomena in rural and urban Sub-Saharan Africa (and the Middle East). A series of talks introduces students to the spatial diversity and cultural vibrancy of the contemporary African condition, followed by workshops which focus on the status and potential of a specific region. Each lab centres on a distinct question or clear mission and culminates in a field trip or residencies through which rural growth patterns, urban prototypes, visionary art spaces, and relational mappings are produced. The outcome of each lab is presented in different formats and contexts, both on the African continent and in Europe. [a]FA is performed in collaboration with international guests, teaching staff of the IoA, and with partner universities. [a]FA is commissioned by NGOs, cultural institutions, artist collectives and individuals.

From 2018 onward, [a]FA has been researching, designing and implementing a market (place) project for Guabuliga, a village in northern Ghana, in collaboration with and commissioned by Chief Salifu Mahama Tamburie, the Austrian‐Ghanaian NGO Braveaurora, and the people of Guabuliga.

RESEARCH: We have mapped a variety of grown/vernacular and planned markets and market designs in diverse cultural contexts (research in Vienna). We have analyzed the given regional context (northern Ghana) in regards to its spatial, environmental, economic, and dynamic/migratory characteristics. We have investigated the given spatial, environmental, infrastructural and programmatic situation on an urban scale (Guabuliga), and market typologies on architectural scale. We have analyzed the use of (market) space at the scale of the human body. We have mapped market space and market life and its time/space dynamics to understand the socio‐cultural parameters which generate market life as it is in Guabuliga and neighbouring communities. We have identified existing and potential (vernacular) building materials.

DESIGN: We have come up with a concept for the Guabuliga Market in the course of our field trip in February 2018, starting from the scale of 1:1000, to the scale of 1:1. End of June 2018, we have presented the pre‐design and design of the project to our project partner NGO. Since July 2018, we have been working on material research and responding design solutions, both in Ghana and in Vienna, including construction drawings and detailing. Thereby, we collaborate with other departments of the IoA, such as Building Construction and Structural Design, and with experts in Ghana.

PRACTICE: We will start the construction of the Guabuliga Market project in January 2019. Due to the innovativeness of the design proposal, and critical reflections on Design.Build projects in Ghana executed by international universities, we will implement the project in a hybrid constellation of supervising ourselves, commissioning Ghana based experts, and employing local labour.


This is an ongoing project with an already selected team. Please contact if you are interested in any form of participation.

Key Words

environment, architecture, context art, architecture related art, presentation, public space

Course Enrolment

From 15 October 2018, 10:00 to 15 December 2018, 10:00
via email:

co-registration: possible (4.0 ECTS)

Architecture (Master): Supplementary Subjects (4.0 ECTS)

Individual courses: possible (4.0 ECTS)