‘Kingsway Leads the Way to Modern Living’: British Profit Seeking and Modernism in Decolonising West Africa

  • 17:15

  • Minto House, Elliot Room
    20-22 Chambers Street
    EH1 1JZ

Join us for the Architectural History & Theory Seminar Series for 2023/24.

This event is taking place both in person and online. Please confirm how you wish to attend when reserving your ticket. Instructions will be sent on how to find the venue and how to join online via email.

Speaker bio:

Ewan Harrison is an architectural historian who researches architectures for business – and the business of architecture – in post-war Britain and its empire. He is a lecturer at the Manchester School of Architecture and a research fellow at the University of Liverpool Architectural Heritage and Urbanism in West Africa Research Centre.


The lecture examines the operative uses of modernist design by the Kingsway Stores, an elite department store chain active across late colonial and post-colonial West Africa. Kingsway, and its parent company Unilever, which owned  the United Africa Company (UAC), responded to decolonisation by instrumentalising a particularly modernist domesticity to a new African  customer base, and commissioning boldly modernist new department stores on key urban sites. Based on critical readings of the UAC archive and oral history accounts of the store’s operation, this lecture reveals complex imbrications between modernist architecture, interior design, and colonial and neo-colonial profit seeking across decolonising West Africa.

Image: Kingsway Store Ibadan. Unilever Archives and Records Management, Port Sunlight. Kingsway Stores of Ghana Sekondi. 
Unilever Archives and Records Management, Port Sunlight.

Book Zoom online at Eventbrite.  
Venue: Elliot Room (2.403), Minto House, 20 Chambers Street.