DK Osseo-Asare is cofounder and principal of architecture and integrated design studio Low Design Office (LOWDO), based in Austin, Texas and Tema, Ghana. He currently holds a triple appointment in humanitarian materials Penn State as an assistant professor of architecture and engineering design, triangulating the Stuckeman School, the School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs (SEDTAPP), and the Materials Research Institute (MRI). He is the director of the Humanitarian Materials Lab (HuMatLab), affiliate to the Materials Matters and Stuckeman Center for Design Computation research clusters, and associate director of AESEDA, Penn State’s Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Design with Africa.
Osseo-Asare is a TED Global Fellow, Fulbright Scholar, and Africa 4 Tech Digital Champion. He cofounded the design agency DSGN AGNC (2009-2011) and the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), an open-source maker tech initiative geared for Africa. He also led urban/strategic design for the Koumbi City and Anam City new town projects in Ghana and Nigeria, which were featured at the Clinton Global Initiative (2012-2014).
He has presented his work internationally at the Royal Institute of British Architects, University of Basel, TU Delft, TED Global, Smart City Expo, World Bank CitiSense, AfriDesignX, University of Ghana, Nelson Mandela African Institution of Science and Technology, Next Einstein Initiative/African Institute of Mathematical Sciences, MIT, Harvard, Columbia University, and on BBC.
He has been a visiting scholar at Delft University of Technology (Netherlands), Department of Urbanism, Faculty of Architecture and Built Environment; Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (Ghana) Department of Materials Research, College of Engineering and Faculty of Architecture and Building Technology, College of Architecture and Planning; and cofounded the Design Lab at Ashesi University (Ghana) as chief maker while Design Lecturer in Engineering (2015-2017).
Osseo-Asare received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Engineering Design and his M.Arch. from Harvard University for his work in kinetic systems and network power.
- A.B. cum laude from Harvard College in 2002
- M.ARCH. from Harvard University Graduate School of Design in 2009
- Architectural Design I
- Education Architecture: Spaces of Learning
- Introduction to Engineering Design
Honors & Awards
- Emerging Architect profile (LOWDO), Architectural Review (UK).
- Buckminster Fuller Institute Catalyst Program, for Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (with Yasmine Abbas).
- SEED Award for Public Interest Design, Design Corps (with Yasmine Abbas).
- Africa 4 Tech Digital Champion (EdTech).
- Innovator of the Year, Ashesi University.
- Clinton Global Initiative (Built Environment track), Honorary Membership for Anam City.
- Centennial Innovation Challenge Award, Rockefeller Foundation, for Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (with Yasmine Abbas and Kwadwo Osseo-Asare).
- Alero Olympio Memorial Trust Project Grant.
- TED Global Fellow.
- Boston Society of Architects Research Grant, for “Low-Cost, Low-Tech: Social Housing in Colombia” (with Quilian Riano).
- Fulbright Scholar to Ghana, Institute of International Education, “Industrial Urbanism in Tema, Ghana”.
- Alpha Rho Chi Medal, Professional Fraternity for Architecture and Allied Arts.
Exhibitions & Presentations
- “Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform”, Live Projects: Production City, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Sewoon Sangga, Seoul, South Korea, September 1 to November 5 (with Yasmine Abbas).
- “Otublohum Transponder” installation at Chale Wote Arts Festival: Spirit Robot, Accra [dot] Alt, Jamestown—Accra, Ghana, August 20–21.
- “Kiosk Museum,” Chale Wote Street Arts Festival: Spirit Robot, Accra [dot] Alt, Jamestown—Accra, Ghana, August 20–21, (reinstallation of collaborative work with Nana Oforiatta Ayim/ANO Centre for Cultural Research).
- “Bamboo Lattice Vault,” Commission for Gallery 1957 Launch, ANO Centre for Cultural Research, Accra, Ghana, March 4.
- “Microtecture and Bamboo Robots,” Kiosk Culture Exhibition, ANO Centre for Cultural Research, Accra, Ghana, October 31, 2015, to March 5, 2016.
- “Cultural Hub,” Chale Wote Arts Festival: African Electronics, Accra [dot] Alt, Jamestown—Accra, Ghana, August 22–23 (design/build collaboration with Nana Oforiatta Ayim/ANO Centre for Cultural Research).
- “Domical Domiciles,” Installation of MasterCard Foundation Scholars’ student design-build work, Ashesi University, Berekuso, Ghana, August–September (in collaboration with Augustus Richardson).
- “Bamboo TV” in “Otublohum Urban Living Room,” Chale Wote Arts Festival, Jamestown, Accra, Ghana, Septemper 1–8, (in collaboration with Maame Adjei, Sir Black and Martin William).
- “Future Farmhouses,” “2084” exhibition, Cameo Gallery, New York, New York, May 30 (with Ryan Bollom and Ashley Heeren).
- “Occupying Africa,” Public Lecture, College of Design, Construction and Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, March 19.
- “Occupying Africa,” Lecture, Facts on the ground: Identifying Africa’s most urgent urban challenges, African Perspectives Preparatory Conference, Delft University of Technology with Ethiopian Institute of Architecture, Building Construction and City Development, Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, January 25.
- “Learning from Agbogbloshie,” Lecture, Culture and Design session, Public Interest Design Institute, North Carolina State University School of Design, Raleigh, North Carolina, November 14.
- “Design Stellation and Spacecrafting,” Lecture, Nairobi Sessions: Digital Design and Local Storytelling, Afri-Design X Symposium, School of Art and Design, University of Nairobi, Nairobi, Kenya, September 27.
- Presentation with Yasmine Abbas, Recycling Network: Production Talk Network Series, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Slow Slow Quick Quick, Seoul, South Korea, September 8.
- “Circular Economy of African Maker Spaces,” Presentation, Session 6: Urban 3.0, TED Global, Arusha, Tanzania, August 30.
- “Township-Building: African New Towns,” Keynote Address, African New Towns Workshop and Urban Thinkers Campus for World Urban Campaign and UN-HABITAT New Urban Agenda, Delft University of Technology, Delft, Netherlands, June 8.
- “Subregional Watersheds and Rurban Agro-Textiles,” Presentation, Displacement_Water, Global Dialogues, Columbia GSAPP Urban Design Program and American Institute of Architects—New York, Columbia University, New York, NY, April 27.
- “AMP: Makerspaces, Technology, Grassroots Development and Social Welfare in Ghana,” Public Lecture with Yasmine Abbas, Digital Humanities Center and Department of Urban Studies, Wayne State University, Detroit, Michigan, April 13.
- “Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform,” Presentation with Yasmine Abbas, Structures for Inclusion 17 Conference, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, April 7–8.
- “Low design: More with less, a community-based approach to optimizing architecture,” Guest Lecture, School of Engineering Design, Technology and Professional Programs, College of Engineering, Penn State University, April 3.
- “In/formal Kiosk Culture,” Public Lecture, Infrastructures from Above and Below, Urban Studies Program, Department of Social Sciences and Centre for African Studies, University of Basel, Basel, Switzerland, February 7.
- “Electronic Landscapes,” Lecture, Ashesi Sessions: Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, Afri-Design X Symposium, Ashesi University, Berekuso, Ghana, May 19.
- “Low Design in the African Context,” Lecture, Mission Creep (Profession/Systems/Praxis), All Change! Symposium on New Architectural and Urban Narratives on the African Continent, Goethe-Institut, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 27.
- Public Lecture, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania, February 13.
- “Makers for Productive Cities,” Presentation, World Bank Citisense Conference, Esade Business School, Barcelona, Spain, November 16.
- “Stigmergy and Terreforming: Transforming Agbogbloshie,” Keynote Address, MESH Confab, British Council, Accra, Ghana, November 15.
- “Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform: Transforming Africa’s E-waste Landscape,” Public Lecture with Yasmine Abbas, La maestria en ciudad y espacio público sustentable y la maestria en proyectos y edificación sustentables, ITESO School of Architecture, Guadalajara, Mexico, February 6.
- “Entrepreneurship: Enterprise, innovation and the creation of economic and social value,” Guest Lecture, African Institute of Mathematical Sciences—Ghana, Biriwa, Ghana, October 9.
- “Bamboo Robots,” Plenary Session Presentation, AIMS Global Alumni Reunion/Next Einstein Initiative, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences—South Africa, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, June 28.
- Presentation, Visioning the Africa of Tomorrow: New visions of tomorrow’s African internet, business, cities and transport, AIMS Global Alumni Reunion / Next Einstein Initiative, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences—South Africa, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, June 27.
- Presentation, Critical Links in Urban Development, Harvard African Development Conference, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, March 9.
- “Sustainable architecture,” Barcamp Tema, Central University College, Tema, Ghana, October 27.
- “How to build a city,” Presentation, TEDxKNUST, Faculty of Architecture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, October 6.
- “City Case Study: Anam City,” Presentation, Smart Cities Expo and World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, November 29.
- “ANAM: Seeding a Rurban Model,” Presentation, Urbanization: Rural to Urban Migration, Smart Cities Expo and World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, November 30.
- “Rurban Model, &tc.,” Public Lecture, African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Nigeria, November 4.
- Presentation, Innovative Solutions: Moving Towards a Safer Environment & Sustainability, 3rd Bi-Annual Pan-African Women Inventors & Innovators (PAWIIN) Symposium, Ecowas Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria, November 3.
- “Innovating Informal Architecture,” Presentation, TED Global, Oxford, United Kingdom, July 12.
- “Between Architecture and Activism: Recent Work,” Lecture, University of Ghana Legon, Accra, Ghana, March 12.
- “Design as Social Activism,” Lecture, D+E | E+D and Design & Planning Group, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA, September 3.
- “Global Networks and Power Dynamics in a West African New Town,” Presentation, Unspoken Borders: Ecologies of Inequality Conference, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, April 4.
- “Social Change and Activism,” Presentation, Rethinking Sustainability, Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture, Royal Institute of British Architects, London, United Kingdom, September 11.
Publications & Presentations
- “Leveraging Maker Ecosystems to Drive Design-Led Innovation” (with Yasmine Abbas) in SEED: Innovative Africa, African Innovation Foundation, Zurich, June.
- “Africentricity” (expanded content) in Kiosk Culture, ed. Nana Oforiatta Ayim, ANO Centre for Cultural Research, Accra, Ghana, October 31, pp. 16–37.
- “Investigating 3E-Materials at Agbogbloshie, Accra, Ghana,” (with Yasmine Abbas) in Raising Awareness for the Societal and Environmental Role of Engineering and (Re)Training Engineers for Participatory Design (Engineering4Society) Conference proceedings, Leuven, Belgium, June 18–19: p. 41–50.
- “Affecting Interclass Innovation at Agbogbloshie” position paper for Love and E-waste workshop at Participatory Design Conference, Windhoek, Namibia, October 6.
- “Exploring the potential for participatory design in Africa,” (with Jeanette Blomberg, Penny Hagen, Daria Loi et al) in Proceedings of the 13th Participatory Design Conference, Vol. 2 (PDC ’14), ACM, New York, pp. 117.
- Anam New City Master Plan (with Belgin Gümrü, Abena Sackey and Stacy Passmore), Dr. Aloy & Gesare Chife Foundation, Abuja, Nigeria, May 1.
- “Roadside kiosks are the future of sustainable urban design,” The Forum, BBC World Service, October 3: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bbhvn.
- “Architecture is Ultimately Technology,” interview with Wired Magazine (UK), September 2.
- “Color Coating/Coding in Ghana’s Mobility Marketplace,” (with Yasmine Abbas) in New Geographies 03, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Fall.
- “AfricentriCITY: From kiosk culture to active architecture,” in NOMA Magazine, National Organization of Minority Architects (Washington, DC), Spring, pp. 12-17.
- “A City in Search of Good Fortune: Buenaventura, Colombia” (with Quilian Riano) in Places Journal, Design Observer Group, November.
- “Network Power in a West African New Town,” in Proceedings of Unspoken Borders: Ecologies of Inequality conference, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, pp. 70–73.
- “Biogas” (with Justin Brown and Rina Salvi), in Informal Toolbox: SLUM LAB Paraisópolis , Ocina de idéias: urbanização de favela, Secretaria Municipal de Habitaçã, São Paulo and Sustainable Living Urban Model Lab, Columbia University Graduate School of Architecture.
- “Post-textile Globalism: The United Teen Equality Center in Lowell, MA,” (with Ryan Bollom and Ben Wakelin) in Trays, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Spring.
In the News
- Architecture faculty project awarded Global Smart Cities Urban Innovation Award
- Architecture professor to speak at African summit on urban challenges and opportunities
- Design by architecture, engineering professor featured in Architect magazine
- Architecture faculty exhibit work at world famous museum
- Penn State designer’s firm up for Young Architects Program
- TED, Penn State, and a Makerspace in Ghana: DK Osseo-Asare and Yasmine Abbas Design as Research