My contribution will be a series of vignettes and paper collages that reflect on the city of Kampala—an important site of contemporary urbanism and unmaking of colonial histories. The vignettes will be punctuated by these collages that disarticulate and reconstruct colonial spaces across the city. Using the railway line as a main site of investigation, the collages and vignettes explore the tension between contemporary place-making and colonial infrastructure. One of the main subjects of in the vignettes and collages is the Kampala Railway Station.

Today, at the eastern end of downtown, the station remains an iconic vestige of colonial architecture. The building anchors the only formal set piece of planning in Kampala: the station’s front door forms an axis along Nakasero Hill with the parliament building. The station is a structure of brown sandstone, a two storey, horizontal volume. Since its construction in 1940, it remains almost unchanged in its present condition.

In turn, the railway line appears to have abandoned its original purpose as a transport infrastructure. Whether functional or not, the line continues to make its mark and highlight the long history of division. The track has an unassuming presence in the city and everyday life has become integrated with the railway reserve. Street vendors, kiosk businesses, urban farmers and commuters gravitate towards the railway corridor: essentially now a slow-moving market space. Intersecting the central topography of the city, the track has become an interstitial zone. At the same time, downtown has in recent years developed around this large railway reserve, a crumbling urban obstacle to be navigated and built around.  

Thomas Aquilina is a London-based architect and researcher. Since 2017 he has worked for Adjaye Associates. He co-directs the New Architecture Writers (N.A.W.) programme and is a co-founder of publishing collective Afterparti. His work features in digital and print publications, as well as exhibitions and public conversations. Thomas is invested in building communities of radical thought and progressive practice. His on-going research ‘Loose-fit Infrastructures’ explores the everyday life of downtown cities through a synthesis of image and text.