Help Junko Build in Ghana!

$2,410 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 38 people in 13 months
*** UPDATE ***

Dear friends, 

Thank you very much, again, for your support. In order for GoFundMe to complete the review process, I was asked to include the following information in my campaign for my donors, so here you go! 

1. Who you are and where you’re from:
My name is Junko Yamamoto. I am an architect, trained in Japan and in the US, licensed in Japan - I am originally from Japan, and have lived in the US for 13 years. I have been doing art and architecture in both countries - Since I studied at night schools (up until graduate school), I worked during the day and have been practicing as an architect for 12 years. 

2. Your relationship or contact to the parties you're raising funds for:
I am raising funds for myself to run the project. The project was originally a competition that my friends and I won last year while we were students at Harvard Graduate School of Design. We were offered a chance to realize it in the Abetenim Arts Village in Ghana.  

3. How the funds will be spent (be specific as possible):
In the order of priority below:

(1). Construction cost = $3,648 (detailed in the campaign description)
(2). Cost of documentation, publication and exhibition (including editing, printing and material expenses in the US) = $1,500
(3). Lodging and accommodation ($90/wk x 2wks in village, $40 x 6 nights in Accra) = 420

4. Your withdrawal plan to get the funds from the campaign to the ultimate beneficiary/ies:
Withdraw from my bank account and pay for the above cost. 


Hello, my name is Junko Yamamoto. I am an architect, trained in Japan and in the United States. I have been doing art and architecture in both countries.  

[ What is the funding for? ]

This is for the public art project, which will be installed in the Abetenim Arts Village in the Ashanti Region in Ghana this August.  

Initially, this was a competition that two of my classmates and I have won last year when we were graduate students, and we have been offered a chance to build the project in the Abetenim Arts Village in Ghana, if we can find funding. 

This competition was part of a larger initiative to enrich the neighborhood that is being developed by Nka Foundation, a non-profit organization, with the aim of creating a truly unique experience for the village to function as a place. 

In order to realize the project, I incorporated it into the educational program of the Boston Architectural College, so that we could form a project team before we travel to Ghana.

This is a tremendous opportunity for all of us to be part of the cross-cultural community development, and learn physically and intellectually through the hands-on construction experience, and by realizing the public art in a unique cultural context. 


[ What we did so far? ]

Over the past two semesters, a team of 10 students have tirelessly worked together to develop and test the project. Since the college is a night school and most of us work full-time during the day, we got together after work and on weekends to research, design and test. 


Now that the team has worked over the past year, we are ready to go!

[ How much? ]

My goal is $5000

A big Thank You to the Boston Architectural College's EDCO grant, which would cover a good portion of construction cost ($3,000). This was a very first, encouraging support that allowed us to move forward with the project, however, however, I do need additional funding in order for us to complete the project. I am fundraising to cover the entire cost of the construction, accommodation in Ghana, documentation and publication, as well as a portion of travel expenses for the team who could travel and participate in the construction. 

The raised funds will be used in the order of priority below: 

(1). Construction cost = $3,648 (detailed in the campaign description)
(2). Cost of documentation, publication and exhibition (including editing, printing and material expenses in the US) = $1,500
(3). Lodging and accommodation ($90/wk x 2wks in village, $40 x 6 nights in Accra) = 420

Wall dimension: 12ft x 16.57ft x 15inch (x two pieces)
Soil for rammed‐earth construction will be collected on site, considered no cost:

For rammed earth walls (3 pieces)
Formwork ‐ framing lumber per linear foot at 1 USD
36 pieces *20 ft/piece * 2 sides *1 USD/ft (times two): 2,880 USD

Wood trellis (internal reinforcement)
14 pieces*16 ft/piece*1 USD/ft (times two): 448 USD

Cement (8% of volume): 100 USD
Screws/nails: 60 USD
Paint and paint brush: 100 USD
Cementitious waterproof coating: 60 USD
Foundation (15 in x 2 ft x 16.57 ft) Concrete mix:  80 USD

Subtotal 3,648 USD

(20% contingency 730 USD)
(Grand total 4,474 USD)


Thank you very much for being interested in my story, and in our project. Your support would truly be meaningful to all of us. We are aspiring to grow as designers, who care about people, believe in good design and want to make positive contribution to the world.

Your donation would certainly make this valuable learning experience possible, and help our educational practice more accessible across countries. 

I would greatly appreciate your donation, or sharing my page with your social network. Thank you very much!

Our initial competition proposal: 

[ A S H A N T I   D O M I N O ]

A rectangular void is dug on the ground. With the removed earth, we propose a wall, roughly the size of a domestic partition, using the construction technique of rammed earth. Often times, land art introduces a foreign entity or removes something from the site creating an aggressive displacement. Here the earth taken is simply put back next to the void vertically as a singular element of architectural delineation, bearing openings of door and windows. One side of the wall is the negative space on the ground, the other side is an array of the cutouts from the wall, creating the Ashanti Domino.

The wall and the cutouts are painted in patterns similar to the facade of a gurunsi house. The wall together with the displaced pieces simply provide shade during the day, a ledge to sit on, an appealing graphic to look at, a shelf to place a plant - pleasant but unsignifying. The negative space in the earth from which the rammed-earth wall is formed is a place of gathering under shade of the wall.

Then, a glimpse of the wall from a certain angle. The wall and the cutouts at a distance align, and the graphic is made whole. The completed graphic ambiguously recalls that icon of modernism - the maison domino - abstracted, barely evoked. Modernism painted onto Africa, and Africa which inspired that very Modernism and that very author, Le Corbusier, to begin with.

In 1956 Ghana declared independence. But what, exactly, is independence? How does one reconcile African and Modern? The questions are rippled in the Ashanti Domino


[ Construction ]
Junko Yamamoto, Project Leaders, BAC Faculty
Matt Vocatura, Assistant Project Leader
Cenxue Wang, BAC Student
Quiren Zhao, BAC Student

[ Design Development & Construction Details ]
Junko Yamamoto, Project Leaders, BAC Faculty
Matt Vocatura, Assistant Project Leader
Daniel Delgado, Cenxue Wang
Gloria Asaba Kwaiza, Cenxue Wang

[ Research & Design Development ]
Junko Yamamoto, Project Leaders, BAC Faculty
Sara Afaian, Project Leaders, BAC Faculty
Matt Vocatura, Assistant Project Leader
Ashlee Ortstadt, BAC Student
Carlota Muzzo, BAC Student
Cenxue Wang, BAC Student
Daniel Delgado, BAC Student
Danny Mpoto, BAC Student
Gloria Asaba Kwaiza, BAC Student
Ivana Muzzo, BAC Student
Quiren Zhao, BAC Student
Lulwah Al-Harb, BAC Student
Tan Trani, BAC Student

[ Competition Participants ] 
Sara Afaian, Junko Yamamoto, Jenny Zhan

[ Competition Organizer ]
Barthosa Nkurumeh, PhD, Nka Fondation, USA

[ Community Coordinator / Project Collaborator ]
Frank Appiah-Kubi, RADeF (Rural African Development Foundation), Ghana

[ Advisors ]
Dr. Yaw Mantey Jectey-Nyarko, Kwame, Nkrumah University of Science and Technology / RADeF
Len Charney, Dean of Practice, Boston Architectural College 
Emily Anne Williamson, Anthropology PhD student at Boston University/Cultural heritage, consultant

[ BAC Coordination ]
Benjamin Peterson, Director of Practice Instruction, Boston Architectural College 

[ Consultation ]
Robert J. Dermody, AIA, NCARB, Professor of Architecture, Roger Williams University
Nathan Roy, P.E., Associate, LeMessurier
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Sneak peak video:
(Wait till you see the chicken -- the chicken, nothing special in the context, accentuates the stillness and the foreignness of the walls.. )
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We are back in Boston!
I apologize for not updating for a while, as I had limited access to the internet in the village. I wanted to let you know that:

The public art in Korase, a rural village in Ghana is complete!

I had no idea what to expect - the site condition, weather, available tools and materials, how people work, their daily schedule, our accommodation, its proximity to the project site, the village rules, etc, etc. The only thing I knew for sure was that we had two weeks to complete the project.

I have been working as an architect in the US and in Japan for 12 years now, but no project started its construction without prior site visit, familiarizing ourselves with the site and its context, designing in response to the context, and putting it together on drawings. Of course, it is an art installation and therefore it is different, however, the project is architectural to some degree, as it consists of three walls, altering the immediate environment and creating a new outdoor public space.

With so many uncertainties, problems after problems, I could not have done this without all the people who supported me. — Joy of improvisations. Joy of collaborations. — This was truly the [ community development through art ]. Although we had a concept that we brought in through the work of art, I did not have a grand mission to impose any fixed ideas on the villagers who would use the space and organically make it their own. — Ashanti Domino — if this visual, spatial message triggers questions and conversations, that is all it matters (to me at least). I am open, and I am excited to see how it develops in the future.

The question is how and where this incredible learning experience would take me next. As an architect I have been designing academic and research buildings, highly specialized laboratories, as well as residential buildings in the US and Japan, working with local communities through designing furniture, while producing and exhibiting art as my personal explorations. Whatever I do, I do believe in the power of art, the power of art in architecture (as opposed to the problem-solving aspect of architecture). It has been my long-held desire that I contribute to the world by art and design. Before going to (thinking of going to) Harvard Graduate School of Design, I was planning to apply for artist residency programs in the less developed areas of the world, and produce art to see how it could transform its context and connect with the community. I just realized that this vaguely envisioned plan was executed in a different form some years later in Ghana.

I have lot more to share, but before getting too long, I wanted to thank you — I am truly thankful to everyone who I met and who I worked with. I will list everyone in my GoFundMe main page (the list is still developing).
We are going to have an exhibition and public presentation in the future. I will share when the time comes, and I hope you can join.
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$2,410 of $5,000 goal

Raised by 38 people in 13 months
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