Building a community through architectural exchange | Jonathan Dessi Olive | TEDxPenn

What is the role of an architect in a place where the profession doesn’t even exist? Jonathan Dessi-Olive explores this question as he shares his experience building a radio studio on a remote island in Lake Victoria with a team of architecture graduate students and local craftsmen. Working with them, he combined local practices with an academic research agenda to build a community structure.

Jonathan Dessi-Olive used catenary building methods to construct a hybrid wind and solar-powered radio studio on the remote Mfangano Island in Kenya. He aims to empower developing communities and build sustainable economies by adapting local construction techniques in his architectural projects. As the inaugural winner of the Robert A.M. Stern Traveling Fellowship, he was recognized as one of the top emerging architects who seek to perpetuate tradition through invention. He holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the University of Minnesota and Master of Architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he is a designer at Peterssen Keller Architecture in Minneapolis.

This talk was given at a TEDx event using the TED conference format but independently organized by a local community. Learn more at

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