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Africatown design contest winners announced Monday

Diving With a Purpose director Kamau Sadiki documents the remains of the slave ship Clotilda in 2018. (Photo courtesy of the Alabama Historical Commission).


Winners of the Africatown International Design idea contest will be announced at the Exploreum Dome Theater in downtown Mobile on Monday

The event will run from 2-4 p.m.

The contest seeks to leverage the finding of the slave ship Clotilda to help honor the history of Africatown with 16 land and water-edged venues on four sites in Mobile, Prichard and Chickasaw.

A total of 169 boards will be shown on the IMAX screen. Each competitor also wrote a design essay.

A design jury of 16 people looked at the work, including professional architects, historians and theologists, activists and public officials.

“We assigned four people to each of the sites and deliberated for two days,” said Renee Kemp-Rotan, the architect and competition adviser and president/CEO of Studio/Rotan. “Sixteen entries were chosen and we raised $100,000 for cash prizes. We’re trying to get stories from around the world because the story (of the Clotilda) is international.”

Money for the cash prizes came from A Better Place Foundation in Birmingham. The $100,000 will be distributed over the four sites — $25,000 for each site.

The 16 venues are destined to constitute a major new cultural heritage tourism destination system called The Africatown Cultural Mile. The goal is to attract millions of visitors and revenue for the economies of Africatown, Prichard, Chickasaw and Mobile.

The Africatown Cultural Mile will be a network of well-designed cultural amenities — a welcome center and museums, Clotilda boathouse, performing arts venues, signature spa hotel, water taxis, boutique retail, restaurants and more.

The four sites include:

  • Historic Africatown, which will include a memorial garden and a pavilion at the Africatown Cemetery, expansion of Mobile County Training School, 30 infill housing prototypes and Gateway 1, the Ancestors Monument.

  • Josephine Allen Public Housing Site, including an Africatown museum and performing arts center, Clotilda Boathouse, maritime residential housing and Gateway 2, a Place of Baptism.

  • Africatown Connections Blueway sites, including the Africatown Yacht-Scuba Club, interpretive water-edged pavilions, the Africatown boat fleet and Gateway 3, the Clotilda discovery site.

  • Africatown USA State Park Site, which is under the jurisdiction of the City of Prichard and includes the Benin House-Africa Museum Performing Arts Theater, a hotel-convention center and international commerce facility, a Black studies institute-genealogy center and Gateway 4, Door of Return to Africa.

The American Institute of Architects and the National Organization of Minority Architects, along with Visit Mobile, provided seed money for the event.

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