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Elsie Owusu OBE: Architecture: From Empire to Independence
Elsie Owusu OBE is an architect, artist and urban designer. Her projects include the UK Supreme Court and London’s Green Park Station. She was runner-up for the RIBA Presidency in 2018, being re-elected to RIBA National Council. Current projects include: a studio/residency complex for the artist Yinka Shonibare CBE in Lagos; the new Kumasi City Hall and Royal Museum, Ghana and a low-energy homes in Sussex, England. She is a director of JustGhana, which promotes inward investment and good governance in Ghana with a special focus on education for children and young people through the creative industries. In 2003, she was honoured by the Queen for services to architecture as Founding Chair of the Society of Black Architects.
As a young architect, I led a student design competition for the “Gallery for Returning Treasures (GRT)”. This ideas competition was co-sponsored by the Africa Reparations Movement (ARM) led by Bernie Grant MP and RIBA.
25 years later, GRT being reborn in Kumasi, the site of the “punitive expedition” of 1873, where Sir Garnet Wolseley’s British troops looted precious royal and sacred regalia. The present Ashanti king HRH Otumfuo Nana Osei Tutu II has demanded the return of these treasures. Many bought at auction by institutions, including the British Museum and V&A, are now part of the global restitution movement.
Our vision for the new GRT is a centre of excellence on the African Continent- a catalyst for housing and curating the treasures and artefacts being returned the country of origin.