UP-CLOSE WITH TEAM CHARIS – Winners of the IFC EDGE Students “Net Zero Ready” Design Competition


In June 2022, David Gifat Ampiaw, Kobby Shalom Ampiaw, Ken Kafui Bakattah and Olufemi Olalekan Abodunrin, all graduates of the Central University, came together to form Team Charis and entered the EDGE Students ‘Net Zero Ready’ Design Competition, an initiative of IFC and funded by the Swiss State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (SECO).  On October 6, 2022, they were adjudged winners at the Awards Night held in Accra Ghana.

For their prize, the team was awarded an all-expense-paid trip to South Africa to attend Green Building Council South Africa’s (GBCSA) Green Building Convention, received an offer of a six-month internship with the lead sponsor Goldkey Properties, as well as free EDGE Expert Training.

It has been a few busy months for the team members who are steadily adapting to their new routines as young professionals in their various work places. They made time to share their competition experience and their vision for the immediate future. Here are excerpts from the interview.

Let’s meet them.

Kindly introduce yourselves and tell us which architect inspires you?

Ken Kafui Bakattah is my name, 25 years, I graduated with Bachelor of Architecture from the Central University and at the moment, I work as a project architect at Crenatives. My architectural influence comes from Frank Lloyd Wright

Hi, I am David Gifat Ampiaw, 24 years, I also graduated with Bachelor of Architecture from the Central University and I am currently working at Mobius Architecture. My greatest architectural influences come from Sir Norman Foster and Augustus Richardson

Kobby Shalom Ampiaw is my name, 22 years, I graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Civil engineering from the Central University and I am currently working at Bricklane Development Group. An architect I look up to is Kwadjo Teye

Hi I am Andre Olufemi Abodunrin, 24 years, also graduated with Bachelor of Architecture from the Central University. The architects I look up to are Frank Gehry, Antoni Gaudi and Akosua Obeng Mensah.

What inspired your group name CHARIS? what does it mean?

We are strong believers in Christ, and we realized that if we going to win the competition, it would take God’s Grace hence the name Charis, which is the Greek word for Grace.

How did the formation of the group come about?

During the launch of the competition, we got together to form the team for the competition.

Interestingly enough, we each had different areas of expertise and we believe we wouldn’t have won if we didn’t have that dynamic.

Your winning concept was titled ‘Maximise/Maintain/Minimise’. What was the inspiration behind it?

The aim was to mimic a tree in nature and create a greenhouse effect. It maximizes the benefits of the site and takes nutrients from the ground, CO2 from the air, and water among others. It doesn’t destroy the environment in which it’s found but maintains it by replacing nutrients from falling leaves and preventing soil erosion, and finally, it minimizes the impact it has on the site. We believe this is what buildings are supposed to function like. Hence Maximum Maintains Minimum.

You recently returned from South Africa- How was the experience and what were some of your key takeaways from the Green Building Convention?

The RE-Generation convention was a success. The convention aimed at creating a new generation of architects and builders who focus not just on sustainability, but on regenerative design principles that aim to enhance the built environment for both people and the planet. Our experience in South Africa was truly memorable. The country offers a unique combination of a world-class, cosmopolitan city like Cape Town and the natural beauty of the surrounding landscape, which we were able to explore by taking rides in open-air vehicles. We will always treasure our time in South Africa and look forward to returning to discover more of the country’s architectural and natural wonders. David Gifat-Ampiaw disclosed.

Looking back, did the competition change any of you? 

David Gifat-Ampiaw – Not really, competition has always been a part of me. It sharpens and tests my knowledge and skills hence a good way to evaluate myself under the pressure of a deadline. But I must say with each competition there is new knowledge acquired, new skills and that I’d say this competition did.

Ken Kafui Bakattah – After winning the EDGE award, it opened me up to a platform where I met Young Entrepreneurs who are looking forward to creating a very green environment in Ghana in their various professions. The I got an opportunity to speak at the Young Entrepreneurs Summit where I spoke about ways through which professionals in the built environment can achieve net zero in whatever they do.

Olufemi Olalekan Abodunrin It drew our attention more to the relevance of going green and minimizing costs, reconsidering material types and reassessing the project continuously to ensure we achieved the best savings. It has generally guided the way my designs would go forward from now on.

How relevant were EDGE and DfGE on your winning project?

The DFGE helped in gaining a clear and better understanding of what designing green really is.

It helped us get real time analysis of our project, helping us to take important decisions in finishing and assigning materials to it.  David and Olufemi affirmed.

What is your view on the state of architecture or engineering in Ghana?

David Gifat-Ampiaw – The state of architecture in Ghana is diverse, with a mix of traditional and modern styles. There is an increasing interest in sustainable design and the use of local materials. However, there are also challenges such as limited resources, funding, and government regulations to ensure the quality and safety of buildings.

Ken Kafui Bakattah – Architecture in Ghana is gradually drifting towards being green. It is a slow process that has started in Accra. Other parts of the country are either unaware or uncommitted about designing green buildings. Being a green building activist, I can help bridge that gap. No region in Ghana should be left behind. Every region needs to go green.

Kobby Shalom Ampiaw – In Ghana, the engineering sector is growing and focusing on areas like infrastructure and technology. There are many engineering firms operating in the country, and Ghana Institution of Engineering is responsible for regulating and overseeing the profession. However, the industry is facing challenges such as a lack of research institutions to utilize the country’s resources, limited access to resources and technology, and insufficient government regulations to ensure the safety and quality of engineering projects.

Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years? 

David Gifat-Ampiaw – In 5 years’ time, I basically should have enough skills and knowledge to be part of the future that is coming. To be healthy, wealthy, and wise but above all let the world know that God did it.

Kobby Shalom AmpiawI see myself as a green expert, well versed in the field as well as a master’s degree holder in environmental engineering.

Ken Kafui Bakattah -In the next five years I should be a registered architect with the Ghana Institute of Architects and also be gearing up to set up a firm.

Olufemi Olalekan Abodunrin – An Architect and world recognized designer.

A few light questions before we go:

Who is the funny man in the group?

Popular pick – Olufemi

Who is the most likely to go to music concert?

Popular pick – Ken and Kobby

Who is most likely to become a celebrity architect?

Popular pick – David





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