RIBA design competition for the African Institute of Science and Technology (AIST)

The African Institute of Science and Techology (AIST) is seeking to select an architect-led design team to design its first campus to be situated in Abuja, Nigeria.

The AIST will ultimately comprise several science and technology higher education campuses and smaller affiliated centers of excellence located throughout Sub-Saharan Africa (SSA). The AIST concept has been developed, nurtured and promoted by the Nelson Mandela Institution for Knowledge Building and the Advancement of Science and Technology in Sub-Saharan Africa (NMI). NMI and AIST is supported by the World Bank, African Development Bank, International Finance Corporation, and other world-class financial and academic institutions.

AIST represents a global effort to foster sub-Saharan Africa’s economic growth and development through the promotion of excellence in science and engineering and their applications. Each AIST campus, the first of which will be in Abuja, Nigeria, will be a world-class institution dedicated to academic freedom and the pursuit of excellence. Each will have a transparent and accountable system of governance and will be supported by two advisory boards of pre-eminent academics. They will offer instruction in science and engineeringcombined with teaching in the humanities and businesscomparable to the most revered institutions around the world. Each will produce outstanding scientists, engineers, entrepreneurs, and leaders who will continually create and adapt knowledge to transform local communities and improve the human condition across the African continent. They will be strongly linked with the private sector to ensure the relevance of its teaching and research. They will be a magnet for Africa’s best and brightest students, researchers, and teachers. They will be self-sustainable and financially independent of government.

The establishment of AIST will bring significant and tangible benefits to the economies and societies of Africa. Its top-flight scientists and engineersgrounded in business and industry and with skills in leadership, entrepreneurship, and the humanitieswill help drive Africa’s development and contribute to solving the problems that afflict that continent. AIST will also lift Africa’s existing education system. Its development will, through competition, force the improvement of its peers in higher education. As students strive for admission into its prestigious programs, better secondary and, eventually, primary schools will also be demanded. AIST will also help stem the brain drain currently afflicting Africa. The institute will encourage students and faculty to remain on the continent by providing an excellent environment for study, research, and teaching. It will also foster “brain recirculation” by encouraging Africa’s great Diaspora to return, if only for short periods at a time, to their continent of birth. Finally, through its close cooperation with business and industry, AIST will help close Africa’s existing skills gap by ensuring that the globally competitive human capital it produces is equipped with the capabilities employers demand.

The budget for the campus is envisaged to be in the order of $350 million US, although design and construction will be phased over a number of years.

Architectural practices are invited to submit expressions of interest for the development of the campus, by the submission deadline of 07 November 2005. Up to six teams will be invited to produce concept designs for the new campus. Each team will receive an honorarium of $20,000 US for their submission. Anyone interested in the selection process should contact the RIBA Competitions Office at +44 113 2341335. For more information, please visit www.ribacompetitions.com for a preliminary briefing paper.