“Thank you for your professionalism as it pertained to managing the remodeling…I admire your ability to facilitate code inspections, and all the snags related to them, with finesse and apparent ease. Furthermore, all aspects of the project appears to me to have been affected at a high level of workmanship” -NC
- “You have surpassed my design expectations!” -DZ
“We have nothing but positive experiences with CODA – from our first visit to what was really still a building site, up to today. Through the negotiations for purchase, the final stages of completion, and the first year of occupancy, we have found your firm to be delightful to deal with, highly principled, and perhaps most importantly, absolutely committed to the highest standards of service and workmanship.” -JJ & AJ
“The team joined the village of Balambi, in the Benguela Province, to raise the walls of their school and was struck by the enormous effort and physical labor required. . .each bucket of water carried from the river, mortar mixed by hand, formed into bricks and lifted into place, granite broken and carried, stone after stone by men, women and children to form the foundation of the school–every step difficult and wearing. . .and yet completed by working together with immense joy and gratitude for the opportunity and gift of education for their children.”
Lynn Cole, Executive Director
For starters I want to thank you both for your input regarding the rural school project in Angola. Your ideas are,…well, magnificent.
In thinking about this project, it was very important to me that architecture: 1) preserve the past, 2) reflect a respect for the dignity of the Angolan people and 3) urge movement into the futurengrounded in faith. In your design, you have accomplished all three goals.
Because Angola is a country torn by war, preserving the past can be seen as a way of preserving the self–I’m speaking as a psychoanalyst. Without knowing where we’re from, it is very difficult to know where we are going. The past is the foundation upon which our individual and collective identify is built. Building the school around the onjango, a traditional building style, is thus a source of significance as cultural symbol of wisdom giving a sense of continuity between past and present. The traditional element creates a senses of sequence out of the chaos of the war and the alienating forces of the Colonial period.
The Colonial period attempted to strip the Angolan people of the cultural pride. Things African were viewed as dirty, inferior, and to be replaced by sophisticated ways of the West. (In the US we did the same to the Native American and in Australia, the same to the Aboriginal people.) Only now are we realizing the destructiveness and arrogance of efforts to assimilate people without a respect of their own ways of life. Your respect of the African come through in the simplicity of design, the use of local materials, the recognition of the absence of power tools. I thank you for that.
Finally, since change is inevitable, symbols must also urge us to consider the future; the modern elements in your design do that magnificently. The canvas canopy lifts the spirit to consider the heavens….So much for my sentimental rambling.
If I had written a charter for the architectural design, I would have stated the three points above and emphasized the need to create a building that could be symbol around which to build the confidence of the Angolan people, that by virtue of their faith in a creator, they could believe in themselves and their resources sufficiently to overcome the divisions and war mentality that civil war created.
Now a bit more about onjango. The word “onjango,” an Umbundu word, is used to describe the traditional palaver house–the village center where the elders, men and young men would gather to talk and take their meals. In its center was the sacred fire, itself a symbol of the spiritual life. The word also refers to the meetings or discussion groups among the elders; we were having an onjango at Caribou Coffee. The Umbundus love to talk and to listen. Listen. Listen. Then talk. Talk. Talk. And listen some more. Even over minor points there will spend endless amounts of time in discussion–a distinction I love about these people among whom I was born and raised.
With much gratitude,
J. Andrew Cole
“It looks like you are three for three. I want to thank you again for your assistance.” -GK
“My reporting on the project at our annual meeting went well. Everyone was pleased with the progress and especially our direction with budget control.” -MC