Sunday, November 23, 2014

A Douala architect: Caroline Barla

Caroline Barla
When recently in Douala, where my spouse, Epee Ellong, has returned, I got together with a good friend I hadn't seen in a very, very long time. Her name is Caroline Barla, and she is (I think) the first female Cameroonian architect (her father, Nsangue Akwa, was the first in the registry of Cameroon architects, ONAC).
Caroline has been busy in all those years in the design field, not only in architecture. We didn't have time to go into much detail, so I will mainly show you photos of her home, which is a showcase for contemporary African style.
The Barla living room--a mix of contemporary
 and traditional African style
Above: Dining Room chair;
below: Traditional Bamiléké funeral dancer's headdress
Caroline's work area 
Caroline also managed a store of original designs for a few years, Caramelle. One of her inventions was to create versions of the "kaba" (the Duala women's traditional dress since about 100 years) in denim.

Kaba as recreated by Caroline Barla
Since a few years, Caroline has been managing a new architecture school in Yaoundé, ESSACA, founded by the architect Jean-Jacques Kotto. I will be writing more about the school in an upcoming post.