A Penn State architecture and engineering design professor whose work explores the reuse and recycling of materials to create low-carbon structures has been selected as a recipient of the national 2024 United States Artists (USA) Fellowship.
DK Osseo-Asare, associate professor of architecture in the College of Arts and Architecture’s Stuckeman School and of engineering design in the College of Engineering at Penn State, earned one of five USA Fellowships in the Architecture and Design category.
Osseo-Asare is a co-founding principal of Low Design Office (LOWDO), based in Austin, Texas, and Tema, Ghana, which explores the links between sustainability, technology and geopolitics. The firm received a 2021 Emerging Voices prize from the Architectural league of New York, was named to Domus magazine’s 50 Best Architecture Firms in 2020 list and was a finalist for the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) and MoMA PS1 Young Architects Program in 2019. LOWDO was also recognized as an emerging architecture firm in the December 2017/January 2018 issue of Architectural Review.
Osseo-Asare is the cofounder of the Agbogbloshie Makerspace Platform (AMP) in Accra, Ghana, with Yasmine Abbas, assistant teaching professor of architecture and director of the Stuckeman School’s Immersive Environments Lab. The AMP was created as a transnational project to help bolster maker ecosystems in Africa by co-designing the reuse and recycling of materials with students and young professionals.
The latest work of the AMP is reflected in the “Fufuzela,” which are mobile, experimental adaptive structures engineered to function at the intersection of architecture and furniture while integrating biology with environmental design and engineering. The Fufuzela system leverages a novel, bamboo-composite, steel joint mechanism to enable low-cost construction of dynamic modular spaces that allow for a hybrid, or blended, experience of physical and digital realities.
The AMP won the Le Monde Cities Urban Innovation Award – Citizen Engagement Prize in 2020, the Design Corps’ SEED Award for Public Interest Design in 2017 and the Rockefeller Foundation’s Centennial Innovation Challenge in 2013.
Osseo-Asare served as architect for the second-ever Ghana Pavilion at the 2022 Venice Biennale, after David Adjaye’s 2019 debut, both curated by Nana Oforiatta Ayim. In 2023, by invitation of the curator of the 2023 Venice Architecture Biennale, Lesley Lokko, Osseo-Asare's team reworked the previous year’s Ghana Pavilion into a walk-through installation of three full-scale Fufuzela prototypes that told the story of the AMP project via a digitally-projected audio-visual experience. This most recent evolution of Osseo-Asare and Abbas’ AMP work was titled “Enviromolecular,” a neologism meaning “minimum structure for life.”
Osseo-Asare is a TED Global Fellow, Fulbright Scholar and Africa 4 Tech Digital Champion in Education Technology. He also led urban/strategic design for the Koumbi City and Anam City new town projects in Ghana and Nigeria, respectively. Osseo-Asare's model for sustainable African rural-urban, or “rurban,” development was featured at the Clinton Global Initiative (2012-2014) and the 2017 UN-Habitat New Urban Agenda at the Delft University of Technology in The Netherlands.
At Penn State, Osseo-Asare is a core researcher in the Stuckeman School's Stuckeman Center for Design Computing, the director of the Humanitarian Materials Lab and a co-director of AESEDA, Penn State’s Alliance for Education, Science, Engineering and Design with Africa.
Fifty fellowships for 2024 were awarded by the USA in the categories of Architecture and Design, Craft, Dance, Film, Media, Music, Theater and Performance, Traditional Arts, Visual Arts and Writing. USA Fellows receive $50,000 in unrestricted money following a nomination, application and review process. More information about this year’s awardees can be found on the USA website.