Africanism sat down with Kakra Asare-Bediako, founder of Inkspired Architects, a Ghanaian born architect operating out of South Africa, where he shared his journey in architecture and his thoughts on African design.
Can you tell us about your background and how you came to be an architect?
I attended junior school and high school at a school called Queens College Boys in Queenstown in the Eastern Cape. I matriculated in 2001 and attended the University of Pretoria in 2002 where I graduated with Masters in Architecture (MArch) in 2007 and worked for Boogertman + Partners from 2007 to 2010 where I gained a lot of knowledge in the world of architecture. I always say that I feel that architecture chose me as I never envisioned myself as an architect, although from a young age I had a passion for how buildings were built, especially when my parents built their house in 1992 in Ghana. At that time I could always be found on site watching the contractors work.
How was the practice formed and how has it evolved since its beginnings?
The practice was formally registered in 2010 after I was unfortunately retrenched from Boogertman + Partners due to the credit crunch in 2010. However, I only started running Inkspired full time in 2017 as I previously consulted for number few companies from 2011 to 2013. From 2013 to 2016, I was a partner at a firm called IDC Architects but I resigned and focused full-time on Inkspired Architects. The story of Inkspired is rather unique as we have grown from strength to strength and we are still growing with a variety of different projects ranging from private residences and apartments, to schools shopping centres and office parks. We have been very blessed and grateful to have clients who have believed in our passion for design and good architecture and have entrusted us to make their dreams a reality.
What were your goals when you started Inkspired?
The vision is to become a major player in the built environment within Sub-Saharan Africa by offering our clients the best cost-effective solutions. Our aim is to enhance our client’s quality of life through good design at a high level of excellence and professionalism.
What do you believe differentiates you from other practices?
At Inkspired Architects, we pride ourselves with perseverance and precision as our core values within the firm. Our clients expectations are met through our hands-on commitment and integrity, as well as our continuous skills improvement to ensure the success of every project we partake on. We also specialise in interiors and have a very talented interior division so we are able to look at our projects holistically.
What has been your favourite project to date?
Al Qasr Residential Apartments, a high end residential project in Linbro Park has been one of our favourite projects thus far due to the notion that the firm had never embarked on such a project in our young history. The design is very unique and befitting of the end-users. We will forever be grateful to the developers who entrusted us to execute such a unique brief.
What does Inkspired have in store for the next twelve months?
We have various exciting projects both locally and internationally in the office that are to be completed this year. Our footprint on the African continent is growing as we have projects in Ghana, Ivory Coast, and Zambia. Locally we are busy with office upgrades in Midrand and Sandton, schools in the North West and the proposal of a state-of-the-art food market in Gauteng.
What inspires you about African architecture?
African architecture has a unique and well documented history, especially when one looks at the Pre-Industrial Architecture. Over the years, due to the advent of eclecticism from the colonial masters, African architecture is generating and morphing its own identity on a global scale. We have a climate that allows for unique designs and we have abundant land. The future of African architecture is indeed exciting.
How has the world of architecture changed since the practice came into being?
The practice is still very young even though we have achieved so much in such a short space of time, technology has most certainly been a defining factor. Clients now demand more than just a blueprint and mostly prefer an artistic impression of proposals.
Where do you see architecture going in the next decade?
Architecture is a movement that expresses the time frames or paradigms of a certain era. Architecture in the near future will be very much based on technology. I feel in the future clients will be able to walk through design proposals rather than envisioning proposals by virtue of still images in the form of renders or artistic impressions. Buildings as we currently know them are becoming more of a lifestyle and future buildings will certainly lend themselves to the changing of the times.