Architecture faculty project awarded Global Smart Cities Urban Innovation Award

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP), which was founded by Penn State Stuckeman School faculty members DK Osseo-Asare and Yasmine Abbas, has been awarded the Smart Cities Urban Innovation Award for Citizen Engagement in the Le Monde 2020 World Urban Innovation Challenge.

The annual Le Monde competition promotes the best urban transformation projects worldwide and awards those that: stand out for their originality, efficiency and impact; address the area’s major challenges, such as global warming, social and gender inequalities, democratic governance, etc.; contribute to improving city services and quality of life; and draw upon citizen involvement. The 2020 competition drew 61 entries representing five continents — down from the average of 200, which can be attributed to the COVID-19 pandemic. Entrants are vying for the overall Grand Prix (Grand Prize) and the top prize in each of five categories: mobility, energy, habitat, urban planning and civic engagement.

An international selection committee comprised of experts in urban change submitted its top choices to the jury, comprised of journalists from Le Monde, who named the awardees.

The civic engagement award, in particular, celebrates “a democratic, horizontal process, whereby citizens play a role in developing and managing physical and virtual urban spaces and services.”

Launched in 2012 by Osseo-Asare, assistant professor of architecture and engineering design who also leads the Humanitarian Materials Lab at Penn State, and Abbas, assistant teaching professor of architecture, the AMP is a transnational project that helps bolster maker ecosystems in Africa by teaching students and young professionals how to reuse recycled materials.

The project, which is in Ghana, has received numerous accolades, winning the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Challenge and Design Corps’ 2017 SEED Award for Public Interest Design. The AMP was also exhibited at the 2017 Seoul Biennale for Architecture and Urbanism.

Osseo-Asare is a cofounding principal of Low Design Office (LOWDO), an architecture and integrative design studio based in Austin, Texas and Tema, Ghana that explores the links between sustainability, technology and geopolitics. LOWDO was a finalist for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program in 2019 and was named to Domus magazine’s 50 Best Architecture Firms in 2020 list.

Le Monde is a French daily newspaper with a circulation exceeding 323,039 copies per issue in 2009. It is considered one of France’s three newspapers of record.