Making Space Accra - Recap
March 2024

A couple of weeks ago, on a warm Sunday afternoon, we convened in airy space on the first floor of a two story residence in Accra. The space being, first of its kind in the city, the Flower Therapy Mental Wellness Studio. We being, creatives, community facilitators, researchers, friends — old and new. The heat radiated, the fans buzzed, yet we were at ease. Nestled into one the many options of seating, including the straw mats laid out on the tiled floors, we talked about space.

This thing we inhabit, allowing us to set the stage for life’s different moments. Whether it be for or a meal or an opportunity to listen or a path on the way there.

In this specific space, the conversation began between an urban planner, an architect and a mental health therapist. How do they relate? Here we uncovered the scale and multi-level aspects of space making. From architectural nuances to cultural influences, this event facilitated a dynamic conversation on the pivotal factors to consider when crafting, sustaining, and transforming spaces.

 Thoughts by profession 

Urban Planners may approach space from a more corporate and political standpoint, which inform the design of overall layout of cities or communities. However, this does not override the planner’s awareness and sensibilities to forward thinking best practices. This push and pull factor enables them to design spaces that promote efficiency, sustainability, and quality of life for residents. It was not lost on us that regulations, political power and capitalism may curb these intentions despite the public call for better spaces.  

Architects approach space making by focusing on the design and construction of buildings and structures within the built environment. They consider elements such as aesthetics, functionality, cultural context, and sustainability to create spaces that meet the needs and aspirations of their clients while harmonizing with the surrounding landscape. Architects often integrate principles of spatial organization, lighting, materials, and technology to craft environments that inspire and enhance human experience. The subject of affordable housing was a point of focus, responding to the increasingly expensive market favouring expats rather than locals.

Mental Health Therapists curate space within the therapeutic context by cultivating environments that foster safety, comfort, and trust for their clients. They pay attention to factors such as lighting, seating arrangements, privacy, and aesthetics to create spaces conducive to healing and self-exploration. Therapists aim to establish a therapeutic alliance by designing spaces that promote relaxation and openness, allowing clients to express themselves freely and engage in the therapeutic process with ease. FlowerTherapy in particular, takes inspiration from nature’s healing powers to support therapeutic interventions.

 Thoughts by context

During the vibrant discussion, participants fervently advocated for the creation of additional green public spaces within the city, recognizing the vital role such areas play in fostering community well-being and environmental sustainability. Delving deeper, the discourse highlighted the profound influence of culture on spatial decision-making processes, emphasizing the need for designs that resonate with (and sometimes challenge) local values and traditions. Amidst the enthusiasm for innovative urban planning ideas, concerns about the practical aspects of implementation and ongoing maintenance emerged, underscoring the importance of realistic strategies to ensure the longevity of proposed projects. Moreover, participants emphasized the interconnected nature of urban challenges, emphasizing the necessity of approaching compound problems holistically, with integrated solutions that address various social, economic, and environmental factors. Overall, the discussion illuminated a shared motivations to crafting inclusive, culturally resonant spaces that enhance the quality of life for all residents of Accra.

Special thanks to @flowertalkofficial | @designstudiomono @boydlarmie | @ebensway
 by @delankofi

"Making Space" is an insightful event series dedicated to exploring the intricate process of space creation and design. We discuss the impact of values and politics in planning and design, illuminating how these considerations profoundly shape our lives and wellbeing. "Making Space" presents an opportunity to explore the intersections where creativity, intentionality, and human experience converge, redefining the essence of space-making in our ever-evolving contexts.

Every place has its story.
Every person carries of piece of it.
All of them gathered, a chance to redefine its meaning.