Killian Doherty and Edward Lawrenson have picked up the Society of Architectural Historians (SAH) Award for Film and Video for the short documentary film that explores the ongoing legacy of a Liberian community who were displaced when a Swedish mining operation discovers valuable ore in a sacred mountain.
The film began with research conducted by Killian in Northern Liberia in 2013, when he happened upon the town of Yekepa. "The town-plan and architecture of Yekepa was not rural, local nor Liberian, rather urban, industrial and that of a European new-town," said Killian, "Researching Yekepa I found out it was designed by and intended for a Swedish-American mining community that was now owned by the largest producers of structural steel, Arcelor Mittal. So Yekepa – its architecture and town - became a means to narrate the historical depth and geographical range of colonialism, in and beyond Africa."
Killian's research locates architectural knowledge and design practices within wider histories of and theories of knowledge, drawing from post-colonial, political history, ecology, anthropology, sociology, geography and critical theory readings of the Global South. Edward, who directed the film, is a London-based filmmaker whose work has been played at a number of internationally high-profile festivals.
"It was through a chance meeting at University College London that I met Scottish filmmaker Edward Lawrenson. Edward had an interest in Scottish mining new-towns and through this shared interest we developed a film-pitch for the Open-City Docs ‘Border Crossing’ competition. Winning this grant we travelled to Yekepa and Stockholm, filming over 15 days," said Killian, "Much of Yekepa’s colonial history, buildings, sites and contacts on the ground had been established and mapped out previously. Edward had also trained me on how to take sound recordings on site. Arriving into Yekepa I took Edward through the town and landscape, and with the help of community facilitators we unearthed Yekepa’s ‘Other’ history of the displaced indigenous Mano community."