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DK Osseo-Asare
Assistant Professor of Architecture and Engineering Design
DK Osseo-Asare
Department of Architecture
218 Stuckeman
814.863.5410

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.

Education

  • Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Master of Architecture, 2009. Thesis: In/formal kiosk culture: building information networks on the street. Advisors: Marco Cenzatti and Teddy Cruz.
  • Harvard College, A.B. cum laude in Engineering Sciences in Engineering Design, 2002. Thesis: Kinetic architecture: a dynamic cuboctahedron space frame. Advisors: Arthur Loeb and Robert D. Howe.

Courses Taught

  • ARCH 231: Architectural Design I
  • ARCH 497: Education Architecture: Spaces of Learning
  • EDSGN100: Introduction to Engineering Design

Research

DK Osseo-Asare’s research explores material assemblies optimized for massively scalable radical resilience, linking humanitarian materials with the mechanics of informal system dynamics in developing world contexts, and integrating synergetics, sustainability, design innovation, open-source urbanism, architecture robots, and digital and bio-fabrication.

He has pioneered concepts of “kiosk culture,” “microtecture” (micro-architecture), “bambots” (bamboo architecture robots), and “design stellation” (together with Yasmine Abbas), a participatory model for spatializing human-centered design methodology. He has led or served as co-PI on research projects funded by the Rockefeller Foundation, MasterCard Foundation, Fetzer Institute, Boston Society of Architects, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Materials Research Institute, and College of Arts and Architecture at The Pennsylvania State University.

His research interests include: augmented and virtual reality; architecture; Africa; automation; circular economy; computation; design and politics; design for disassembly; design science; development engineering; ecological design and planning; engineering design; environmental studies; human-centered design; humanitarian materials; informal sector; landscape urbanism; microtecture; participatory design; postcolonial studies; recycling; robotics; science, technology and society; semiotics; smart cities; space structures; stellate design; sustainability; synergetics; transdisciplinary design; urban design; urban studies; user experience design; waste electrical and electronic equipment.

Honors + Awards

  • 2018 Emerging Architect profile (LOWDO), Architectural Review (UK).
  • 2017 Buckminster Fuller Institute Catalyst Program, for Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (with Yasmine Abbas).
  • 2017 SEED Award for Public Interest Design, Design Corps (with Yasmine Abbas).
  • 2016 Africa 4 Tech Digital Champion (EdTech).
  • 2016 Innovator of the Year, Ashesi University.
  • 2012-2014 Clinton Global Initiative (Built Environment track), Honorary Membership for Anam City.
  • 2013 Centennial Innovation Challenge Award, Rockefeller Foundation, for Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (with Yasmine Abbas and Kwadwo Osseo-Asare).
  • 2012 Alero Olympio Memorial Trust Project Grant.
  • 2010 TED Global Fellow.
  • 2010 Boston Society of Architects Research Grant, for “Low-Cost, Low-Tech: Social Housing in Colombia” (with Quilian Riano).
  • 2009 Fulbright Scholar to Ghana, Institute of International Education, “Industrial Urbanism in Tema, Ghana”.
  • 2009 Alpha Rho Chi Medal, Professional Fraternity for Architecture and Allied Arts.

Exhibitions + Presentations

Exhibitions:

  • “Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform”, Live Projects: Production City, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Sewoon Sangga, Seoul, South Korea, 1 September to 5 November 2017 (with Yasmine Abbas).
  • “Otublohum Transponder” installation at Chale Wote Arts Festival: Spirit Robot, Accra [dot] Alt, Jamestown – Accra, Ghana, 20-21 August 2016.
  • “Kiosk Museum”, Chale Wote Street Arts Festival: Spirit Robot, Accra [dot] Alt, Jamestown – Accra, Ghana, 20-21 August 2016 (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, 4 March 2016.
  • “Microtecture and Bamboo Robots”, Kiosk Culture Exhibition, ANO Centre for Cultural Research, Accra, Ghana, 31 October 2015 to 5 March 2016.
  • “Cultural Hub”, Chale Wote Arts Festival: African Electronics, Accra [dot] Alt, Jamestown – Accra, Ghana, 22-23 August 2015 (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 2015 (in collaboration with Augustus Richardson).
  • “Bamboo TV” in “Otublohum Urban Living Room”, Chale Wote Arts Festival, Jamestown, Accra, Ghana, 1-8 Sep 2013 (in collaboration with Maame Adjei, Sir Black and Martin William).
  • “Future Farmhouses”, “2084” exhibition, Cameo Gallery, New York, New York, 30 May 2011 (with Ryan Bollom and Ashley Heeren).

Presentations:

  • “Occupying Africa”, Public Lecture, College of Design, Construction and Planning, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida, 19 March 2018.
  • “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, 25 January 2018.
  • “Learning from Agbogbloshie”, Lecture, Culture and Design session, Public Interest Design Institute, North Carolina State University School of Design, Raleigh, North Carolina, 14 November 2017.
  • “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, 27 September 2017.
  • Presentation with Yasmine Abbas, Recycling Network: Production Talk Network Series, Seoul Biennale of Architecture and Urbanism, Slow Slow Quick Quick, Seoul, South Korea, 8 September 2017.
  • “Circular Economy of African Maker Spaces”, Presentation, Session 6: Urban 3.0, TED Global, Arusha, Tanzania, 30 August 2017.
  • “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, 8 June 2017.
  • “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, 27 April 2017.
  • “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, 13 April 2017.
  • “Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform”, Presentation with Yasmine Abbas, Structures for Inclusion 17 Conference, Portland State University, Portland, Oregon, 7-8 April 2017.
  • “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, 3 April 2017.
  • “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, 7 February 2017.
  • “Electronic Landscapes”, Lecture, Ashesi Sessions: Design Futures in Sub-Saharan Africa, Afri-Design X Symposium, Ashesi University, Berekuso, Ghana, 19 May 2016.
  • “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, 27 May 2015.
  • Public Lecture, Nelson Mandela African Institute of Science and Technology, Arusha, Tanzania, 13 February, 2015.
  • “Makers for Productive Cities”, Presentation, World Bank Citisense Conference, Esade Business School, Barcelona, Spain, 16 November, 2014.
  • “Stigmergy and Terreforming: Transforming Agbogbloshie”, Keynote Address, MESH Confab, British Council, Accra, Ghana, 15 November, 2014.
  • “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, 6 February 2014.
  • “Entrepreneurship: Enterprise, innovation and the creation of economic and social value”, Guest Lecture, African Institute of Mathematical Sciences – Ghana, Biriwa, Ghana, 9 October 2013.
  • “Bamboo Robots”, Plenary Session Presentation, AIMS Global Alumni Reunion / Next Einstein Initiative, African Institute for Mathematical Sciences – South Africa, Muizenberg, Cape Town, South Africa, 28 June 2013.
  • 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, 27 June 2013.
  • Presentation, Critical Links in Urban Development, Harvard African Development Conference, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 9 March 2013.
  • “Sustainable architecture” Barcamp Tema, Central University College, Tema, Ghana, 27 October 2012
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  • “How to build a city”, Presentation, TEDxKNUST, Faculty of Architecture, Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology, Kumasi, Ghana, 6 October 2012.
  • “City Case Study: Anam City”, Presentation, Smart Cities Expo and World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, 29 November 2011.
  • “ANAM: Seeding a Rurban Model”, Presentation, Urbanization: Rural to Urban Migration, Smart Cities Expo and World Congress, Barcelona, Spain, 30 November 2011.
  • “Rurban Model, &tc.”, Public Lecture, African University of Science and Technology, Abuja, Nigeria, 4 November 2010.
  • Presentation, Innovative Solutions: Moving Towards a Safer Environment & Sustainability, 3rd Bi-Annual Pan-African Women Inventors & Innovators (PAWIIN) Symposium, Ecowas Headquarters, Abuja, Nigeria, 3 November 2010.
  • “Innovating Informal Architecture”, Presentation, TED Global, Oxford, United Kingdom, 12 July 2010.
  • “Between Architecture and Activism: Recent Work”, Lecture, University of Ghana Legon, Accra, Ghana, 12 March 2010.
  • “Design as Social Activism”, Lecture, D+E | E+D and Design & Planning Group, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York, USA, 3 September 2009.
  • “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, 4 April 2009.
  • “Social Change and Activism”, Presentation, Rethinking Sustainability, Stephen Lawrence Memorial Lecture, Royal Institute of British Architects, London, United Kingdom, 11 September 2008.

Publications

  • “Leveraging Maker Ecosystems to Drive Design-Led Innovation” (with Yasmine Abbas) in SEED: Innovative Africa, African Innovation Foundation, Zurich, June 2016.
  • “Africentricity” (expanded content) in Kiosk Culture, ed. Nana Oforiatta Ayim, ANO Centre for Cultural Research, Accra, Ghana, 31 October 2015, 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, 2015: p. 41–50.
  • “Affecting Interclass Innovation at Agbogbloshie” position paper for Love and E-waste workshop at Participatory Design Conference, Windhoek, Namibia, 6 October 2014.
  • “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, 1 May 2011.
  • “Roadside kiosks are the future of sustainable urban design”, The Forum, BBC World Service, 3 October 2010: http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/p00bbhvn.
  • “Architecture is Ultimately Technology”, interview with Wired Magazine (UK), 2 September 2010.
  •  “Color Coating/Coding in Ghana's Mobility Marketplace” (with Yasmine Abbas) in New Geographies 03, Harvard Graduate School of Design, Fall 2010.
  •  “AfricentriCITY: From kiosk culture to active architecture” in NOMA Magazine, National Organization of Minority Architects (Washington, DC), Spring 2010, pp. 12-17.
  • “A City in Search of Good Fortune: Buenaventura, Colombia” (with Quilian Riano) in Places Journal, Design Observer Group, November 2009.
  • “Network Power in a West African New Town” in Proceedings of Unspoken Borders: Ecologies of Inequality conference, University of Pennsylvania School of Design, 2009, 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, 2008.
  • “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 2008.

CV + Files + Links