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Grants:Programs/Wikimedia Alliances Fund/Find and Tell Elsewhere - Africa

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statusNot funded
Find and Tell Elsewhere - Africa
Our projects aims at increasing access and research on African architecture by ensuring greater discoverability of primary and secondary sources of knowledge in close collaboration with African partners. This project responds to Wikimedia’s commitment to ‘creating new knowledge, closing systemic gaps in global understanding of language, culture, and identity’ and to ‘help open the knowledge — making it more diverse, more equitable, accessible and inclusive.’ (Wikimedia Foundation 2023)
start date2023-09-01
end date2026-08-31
budget (local currency)60000 CAD
budget (USD)45000 USD
grant typeMission-aligned organization
organization typeNon profit organisation
funding regionSSA
decision fiscal year2022-23
funding program roundRound 2
applicant(s)• Caroline Dagbert (CDCCA) and Elspeth Cowell (ccaec1920)
organization (if applicable)• Canadian Centre for Architecture

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Applicant information[edit]

A. Organization type

Mission-aligned organization

B. Organization name

Canadian Centre for Architecture

E. Do you have an account on a Wikimedia project?


E1. Please provide the main Wikimedia Username (required) and Usernames of people related to this proposal.

Caroline Dagbert (CDCCA) and Elspeth Cowell (ccaec1920)

G. Have you received grants from the Wikimedia Foundation before?

Did not apply previously

H. Have you received grants from any non-wiki organization before?

H1. Which organization(s) did you receive grants from?
Canada Council for the Arts, Canadian Heritage, Ministère de la Culture et des Communications, Conseil des arts de Montréal, Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Graham Foundation for Advanced Studies in the Fine Arts.
H2. Please state the size of these grants from the following options.
H3. What type of organization (s) did you receive grants from?
Government, Other
H4. What percentage of your program budget do other funders contribute to?
Less than 30%

1. Do you have a fiscal sponsor?


1a. Fiscal organization name.


2. Are you legally registered?


3. What type of organization are you?

Non profit organisation

4. What is your organization or group's mission and how does it align with the Wikimedia movement?

The CCA is an international research centre and museum founded on the conviction that Architecture is a public concern. Based on its extensive collections, the CCA is a leading voice in advancing knowledge, promoting public understanding, and widening thought and debate on architecture, its history, theory, practice, and role in society today.

5. If you would like, please share any websites or social media accounts that your group or organization has. (optional)

Website: www.cca.qc.ca

Facebook: @cca.conversation Twitter: @ccwire (English), @ccaexpress (French) Instagram: @canadiancentreforarchitecture YouTube: CCAchannel

Grant proposal[edit]

6. Please state the title of your proposal.

Find and Tell Elsewhere - Africa

9. Where will this proposal be implemented?

International (more than one country across continents or regions)

10. Indicate if it is a local, international, or regional proposal and if it involves several countries?


10a. If you have answered international, please write the country names and any other information that is useful for understanding your proposal.

The CCA will implement the Find and Tell Elsewhere project in Africa, and more specifically in countries of East and West Africa. The CCA has developed a network of researchers in this area who will advise on the best partnerships to develop in order to contribute to making African architecture more accessible, known and studied. For the current project, the CCA intends to focus on Nigeria, Ghana, and Senegal.

10b. Are there any specific sub-regions or areas where your proposal will be implemented?


11. What is the challenge or problem you are addressing and why is this important?

In 2018, the Canadian Centre for Architecture (CCA) launched a collaborative and multidisciplinary research project on architecture’s complex developments in sub-Saharan African countries after independence. Titled Centring Africa: Postcolonial Perspectives on Architecture, this project asked, first, how to understand architecture’s historical role in decolonization, neocolonialism, globalization, and their manifestations across the continent, at local and regional scales; and, second, how this understanding could challenge established methods and disciplinary conventions of architectural and urban studies. The project also aimed to question, and eventually shift, perspectives shaped by North/South knowledge divides.

This research initiative was catalyzed in part by the recent arrival at the CCA of three important archival collections related to architecture, urbanism, and territoriality in Africa: those of Dutch planner Coen Beeker, German architect Georg Lippsmeier, and Kiran Mukerji, an employee of Lippsmeier. Generally, the CCA considers archival research essential to building new forms of evidence, understanding the archive broadly, but this research project reconsidered the archive in order to challenge the reliance on Western sources and brought forward the need to have access to a diverse range of African primary sources.

Now, the question of whether collecting or accepting material from the African continent is ethical or not was raised by the participants of the multidiscplinary research project. To some of them, extracting archives created in and about Africa and including them in the CCA’s Collection was another form of colonial act -- even if the CCA could guarantee a high level of preservation of the material and its accessibility.

The multidisciplinary research project thus pointed to three main challenges: the knowledge gaps in architecture history around African architecture; the difficulty to have access to African sources of knowledge on African architecture; and the role of museums as ‘extractive institutions premised on the colonial urge to collect, classify, and exhibit – to “know”’ (Sharp 2022).

12. What is the main objective of your proposal? Please state why you think partnering with Wikimedia Movement helps to achieve this objective?

Our projects aims at increasing access and research on African architecture by ensuring greater discoverability of primary and secondary sources of knowledge in close collaboration with African partners. This project responds to Wikimedia’s commitment to ‘creating new knowledge, closing systemic gaps in global understanding of language, culture, and identity’ and to ‘help open the knowledge — making it more diverse, more equitable, accessible and inclusive.’ (Wikimedia Foundation 2023)

13. Describe your main strategies to achieve this objective?

Founded on the premise that architecture is a public concern, the CCA seeks to play an active part in fostering debate on architecture and its role in society, on a global scale. The Centring Africa project shed light on the gaps that exist in research on African architecture. In order to continue its work of preserving and spreading knowledge on architecture from Africa, while avoiding any form of extractive practices, the CCA decided to undertake a shift in direction and explore a new strategy:

‘The post-custodial model of archival practice uses digital technology in pursuit of a more collaborative approach to multinational archival work. […] But it was quickly taken up by archivists interested in human rights and social justice as a way to shift the balance of power in archival preservation.’ (CLIR 2023).

Concretely this means that the archival material remains in its place of origin while external archivists provide management oversight. As Gauthereau puts it, 'moving away from an archive design that requires possession and ownership is a stance that delinks libraries [and other collecting institutions] from the colonial mode’ (Gauthereau 2018). Digital technology also presents an opportunity for participatory strategies that seek to shift curatorial authority and access to the communities represented. In this model, archivists work side-by-side with community members to actively close gaps in historical coverage and proactively document the present day. At the same time, digitized material has the potential to reach (other) audiences beyond the physical space of a library, especially if shared on a public platform like Wikimedia Commons.

The adoption of this model led to a project: Find and Tell Elsewhere. The pilot project started in 2021 with a collaboration with the custodians of the papers of the Sudanese architect Abdel-Moneim Mustafa to foreground his significant interventions in Khartoum. The CCA provided support in the digitization of selected architectural drawings and photography, and facilitated access to these resources -- that are still housed in Mustafa’s office -- for future research. The CCA and the local team collaborated on giving the files descriptive metadata and uploaded all on Wikipedia Commons (242 files were uploaded) and a Wikipedia entry is pending approval.

Following the success of the pilot project, the CCA seeks to expand the Find and Tell Elsewhere program to other African geographies with one iteration each year for a three-year period. The first one aims for a collaboration with the Nigerian Institute of Architects and the Wikimedia Usergroup Nigeria, to make available a selection of material of the most celebrated early architects post independance in the country.

This project is a way to foreground architecture in Africa that would otherwise be unknown in other parts of the world, and is therefore a way to change the bias in the field of architecture and shift in museum culture.

14. Are you running any in-person events or activities?


15. Please state if your proposal aims to work to bridge any of the identified content knowledge gaps?

Geography, Cultural background, ethnicity, religion, racial

16. Please state if your proposal includes any of these areas or thematic focus.

Culture, heritage or GLAM

17. Will your work focus on involving participants from any underrepresented communities? Select all categories that apply.

Ethnic/racial/religious or cultural background

18. Please tell us more about your target participants.

The Find and Tell Elsewhere project requires the participation of an organization (architecture firm or non profit organization) that is actively involved in the digitization of the selected archive and is contributing to a greater understanding of it. The project also requires the participation of the architect and/or of his/her collaborators who are the knowledge keepers of the archive and can share details and information that will be used for the descriptive metadata.

Partnerships with local universities will be formed so that groups of students be put to contribution to develop further the descriptive metadata of the archival material. The CCA is currently investigating partnerships for a next project with potentially the Nigerian Institute of Architects, the Accra Archive, and with architects in Senegal (see below) to define the architectural highlights that can be digitized and the local wikimedia groups.

Besides, in 2016, the CCA launched the CCA c/o program (standing for “care of”), characterized by a nimble and temporary presence in different cities around the world. The program started with CCA c/o Lisbon, then travelled to Tokyo from 2018-2020, and Buenos Aires from 2020-2021. The next iteration will take place in Africa allowing the CCA to widen its understanding of the role of architecture in this part of the world. Due to this initiative, the CCA shares its network to a much broader architecture and research community and in return benefits from the advice and guidance of a local curator to identify the archives to be digitized and shared.

In order to open up potential collaborations, the CCA is working on establishing an advisory committee with advisors based in West and East Africa. The Advisory Committee will make suggestions on who to connect to based on their interest and expertise.

19. Do you have plans to work with other Wikimedia communities, groups or affiliates in your country, or in other countries, to implement this proposal?


19a. If yes, please tell us about these connections online and offline and how you have let Wikimedia communities know about this proposal.

We have identified the following active Wikipedia groups : Wiki Africa, Ghana User Group and Nigeria User Group and we have initiated a first contact with them to determine if a collaboration with the CCA would be possible. The aim is to collaborate with the Nigerian Institute of Architects to digitize selected material of the three most influential post independance architects and to collaborate with students and the Wikimedia Group Nigeria to create descriptive metadata that will allow for greater discoverability on Wikimedia Commons and to create Wikipedia pages with relevant quotations and original resources.

19b. If no, please tell us the reasons why it has not been possible to make these connections.


20. Will you be working with other external non-Wikimedian partners to implement this proposal?


20a. If yes, please describe these partnerships.

With this project, we want to implement new modes of providing access to resources and supporting research and to evaluate how the management and use of these records can be dissociated from their physical ownership. This implies that we develop strong collaborations with partners in Africa who will remain the custodians of the archives we want to explore and share.

The CCA provides expertise in description and data management, in archival digitization and activates its network of researchers and writers while our partners share their expertise and knowledge of the work of African architecture practitioners or theoricians and the archives of their work. Together we aim at expanding and connecting networks and expertises, sharing knowledge on African architecture, and stimulating research.

Thanks to this collaboration, new resources can be made available on Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia for the benefit of researchers, students, architects and designers, journalists, and the general public.

20a. If yes, indicate sharing of resources from these partners (in kind support, grants, donations, payments).

The grant would be split between the CCA and the partners: the partners would receive funds to select and digitize archival material and to develop the metadata. A local photographer would receive fees to film and photograph existing buildings to be made available on Wikimedia Commons. African researchers would receive fees to write articles about the work of the architects whose archive has been digitized and shared on Wikimedia Commons. 25% of the project budget will go to support the work of the CCA staff. For the pilot project on Mustafa, the CCA staff was notably involved in coordinating the data creation and making sure the data is complete. The CCA team created social media posts, reached out to international media and presented the project at conferences to address an international research community.

21. Please tell us how your organization is structured.

The CCA is a not-for-profit institution under the governance of a Board of Trustees, which delegates the authority to the Director and a management team. The Director supervises the Research, Collection, Programs, Publications, and Digital divisions while the Chief Operating Officer supervises the Administration and Finance, People and Culture, Information Technologies, and Development divisions. This team deploys a triennial strategic vision through the establishment of Widely important goals (WIGs) that are approved annually by the Board.

The CCA campus is based in Montreal with 100+ staff exploring cutting-edge architecture and built environment issues. The CCA has an always-expanding network of collaborators, and partners with the top-10 architecture university programs in Canada, and with another 40 universities across the five continents.

The proposed project will be led by our top leaders, Giovanna Borasi and Martien de Vletter. Giovanna joined the CCA in 2005 as Associate Director of Programs and has held subsequent positions as Curator of Contemporary Architecture (2011-13) and Chief Curator (2014-20) before becoming Director and Chief Curator in 2020. In this role she oversees the CCA’s curatorial trajectories and processes of institutional revaluation. Martien joined the CCA in 2012 as Associate Director of Collection. Martien is responsible for the acquisition strategy, descriptions of and access to the collection as well as collection management and care.

22. Do you have the team that is needed to implement this proposal?

The CCA team will be 1) supporting its African partners in preserving significant archival material (often at risk); 2) guiding the digitization process of archival material and sharing the material with as many people as possible through Wikimedia Commons; 3) developing new knowledge based on this material through research articles published on Wikipedia and on the CCA website.

To accomplish this, the CCA can count on several teams: Collection, Digital and Outreach, Publication, and Research. The Collection team is composed of 28 highly skilled professionals including archivists, digital archivists, cataloguers, librarians, museum technicians, curators, restorers, and more. The Digital and Outreach team counts a dozen people, whose members work horizontally with other divisions to develop new digital formats for curated content and understand the challenges of digitizing archival material. The publication division has an extensive networks of authors and supervises the production of books, ebooks, and web articles (around 50/year). The Research division leads seven research programs and maintains an alumni network of nearly 700 CCA Fellows. This internal expertise allows the CCA to conceive, develop, and produce a wide range of initiatives, such as the Find and Tell Elsewhere program. This internal expertise will be shared with our African partners.

Moreover, the Find and Tell Elsewhere builds on an existing program called the Find and Tell (www.cca.qc.ca/en/56718/find-and-tell) created in 2018 which was designed to bring attention to content within the CCA archives, render them more broadly accessible, and to promote new readings that highlight the intellectual relevance of aspects of the CCA collection. It is conceived as a series of residencies where invited experts are asked to put forward arguments about our contemporary holdings and recent acquisitions by making a significant selection and interpretation of material within an archive or the photography collection. Following each residency, the material selected by the experts is digitized and made available through the CCA website, accompanied by an essay that supports their specific curatorial approach. Instead of reducing digitization and online accessibility to a technical operation, the program uses them to generate new ideas and perspectives. Find and Tell Elsewhere is an extension of this program.

23. Please state if your organization or group has a Strategic Plan that can help us further understand your proposal. You can also upload it here.  


Learning, Sharing, and Evaluation[edit]

24. What do you hope to learn from this proposal?

As an international institution, the CCA seeks to play an active role in global debates on architecture and, in order to address contemporary problems, the CCA has adopted a multi- and trans-disciplinary approach, and has simultaneously combined different cultures, practices and points of view. The role of the CCA is to problematize broader social issues, while embracing multiple perspectives, and see how architecture and urbanism can contribute to addressing them. The CCA is thus not only interested in national historical narratives, but also in the evolution of larger multifaceted international discourses. Besides, the CCA is aware of its role in contributing to colonial power and prejudice by having often included narratives centering Euro-American settler perspectives and has been on a journey to open up more and more to pluralistic world views.

The Centring Africa research and publication project, CCA c/o in Africa, and Find and Tell Elsewhere are steps on this journey to learn from practitioners and researchers from the African continent. This project aims at better understanding the work and vision of African architects, the evolution of architecture in Africa, and its role in responding to the challenges of African societies. This project also offers a unique opportunity to develop meaningful and fruitful partnerships and for the partners to learn from one another.

Core Metrics[edit]

25. Enter a description of the metric and a number in the target field. If the metric does not apply to you, enter N/A for not applicable.

Core Metrics Summary
Core metrics Description Target
Number of participants Based on the pilot project, we propose the following collaborating structure with our partners, which would include the following participants:

Collaboration Nigerian Institute Architects (2023-2024)

New participants:

  • Professor Warebi Brisebi (content supervision)
  • Two students or young architects to work on selection of material and collaborate on the descriptive metadata (covered by the grant)
  • Two technicians to digitize material (covered by the grant

Returning participants:

  • Martien de Vletter (content supervision)
  • Two CCA staff members to support descriptive metadata creation
  • One CCA web editor to support the publications

This structure with a similar amount (9) of people will be replicated for the collaboration in Ghana and Senegal.

Number of editors 11
Number of organizers CCA in partnership with 3 different African organizations (one Find and Tell/year for a 3-year period) and the local, so one or more Wikimedia User Groups (Wiki Nigeria, Wiki Africa). 5
Number of new content contributions per Wikimedia project
Wikimedia Project Description Target
Wikimedia Commons Three Wikimedia Commons pages (one for each architect) including several hundreds files or more (plans, drawings, notes, photos, videos, etc.). Three Wikipedia articles about the selected architects. 6

25a. If for some reason your proposal will not measure these core metrics please provide an explanation. (optional)


26. What other information will you be collecting to learn about the impact of your work? (optional)

1) Increase discoverability of significant African architecture archives
  • Number of views of the files on Wikimedia Commons
  • Number of revisions or additions by others than the core group

2) Disseminate knowledge about African architecture

  • Number of views for articles related to these archives on Wikipedia
  • Number of views for articles related to these archives on the CCA website
  • Geography of the visitors

3) Produce knowledge and new understandings about the history of African architecture

  • Number of journal articles published on the archives
  • References to these archives in academic and non academic publications

4) Development of new partnerships

  • Number of new contributors
  • Quality of the collaboration
  • Feedback from the partners

5) Visibility of the program

  • Number of clicks on the CCA social media posts about this program
  • Number of views of the Find and Tell Elsewhere webpage

27. What tools would you use to measure each metric selected?

- Programs and Events Dashboard
  • Events Metrics – we would like to organize a local ediathons, but it requires active work on the side of the Nigerian partners, so it would be great to test this.
  • Wikimedia Hashtag tool: we have not used this while working on the pilot project, but it would be a good moment to test with this tool.

28. How do you hope to share these results so that others can learn from them?

Create a video of our experience, Create a training workshop to show others what we learned, Share results on social media, Participate in one on one peer sharing session with other grantees

Financial Proposal[edit]

29. What is the amount you are requesting from WMF? Please provide this amount in your local currency.

60000 CAD

30. What is this amount in US Currency (to the best of your knowledge)?

45000 USD

31. & 32. Please provide a budget for the amount of funding requested.

Find & Tell Elsewhere budget

Digitization of archival material: $15,000 (5K for each iteration) Photography of existing buildings for Wikimedia Commons: $9,000 (3K for each iteration) Local contribution to data: $12,000 (4K for each iteration) Fees for authors: $9,000 (3K for each iteration) CCA staffing: $15,000 (5K for each iteration)

TOTAL: $60,000

33. What do you do to make sure there is a good management of funds?

The CCA has a stable financial situation. A process of bi-annual revision of the budget enables the CCA to promptly reajust the scope of its projects when financially required. Balanced projections are presented to the Board for approval, and a strict control is ensured by division directors on an ongoing basis. All payments must be approved by the Administration and Finance division, financial reports are produced on a monthly basis to keep track of the institutional budget, and the CCA financial statements are externally audited. The Associate Director, Administration and Finance, and the Controller of the CCA work in close collaboration with division directors, and bring financial management expertise in order to maintain a balanced budget and act as resource persons for the institution.

34. How will you contribute towards creating a supportive environment for participants using the UCOC and Friendly Space Policy?

The CCA does not tolerate any form of harassment, including cyberbullying, and has the duty to provide staff members and all CCA collaborators and partners with a suitable work environment free of psychological stress. The CCA shares with Wikimedia the values of respect, civility, collegiality, solidarity and good citizenship and will promote them throughout the project. The CCA has an open and inclusive approach and will make sure to provide a welcoming experience for everyone, regardless of gender, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, disability, appearance, race, religion (and not limited to those aspects) in accordance with the Wikimedia Friendly space policies.

35. Please use this optional space to upload any documents that you feel are important for further understanding your proposal.

Other public document(s):

Final message[edit]

By submitting your proposal/funding request you agree that you are in agreement with the Application Privacy Statement, WMF Friendly Space Policy and the Universal Code of Conduct.

36. We/I have read the Application Privacy Statement, WMF Friendly Space Policy and Universal Code of Conduct.