Architecture as Technical Governance at the African Union


Kenny Cupers, Cole Roskam, Girma Hundessa
Architectural Theory Review, 2023

Few architectural sites seem as symbolic of the system of political rule whose official seat they accommodate as the African Union Conference Center and Office Complex (AUCC) in Addis Ababa. Funded, designed, and built by Chinese agencies, the complex sits at the center of a shifting set of international relations that also thread through the organisation’s longer architectural history. In analysing the project, this article explains processes of material, spatial, and administrative organisation at its core: an array of design and construction practices, building-related technologies, and forms of post-delivery management and maintenance that we argue amount to a mode of technical governance. Understanding this architectural form of governance requires a closer study of the design, construction, and post-occupancy of the AUCC as well as the adjacent German-designed Peace and Security Council building. It also necessitates situating these within a longer history of architectural contributions to the shifting nature of Pan-African governance in Addis Ababa over time.