Examining built and theoretical practices during transforming circumstances, the paper outlines four areas of activity in modern architecture during the first post-colonial decade. As Ghana reclaimed independent rule in 1957, the role of architecture within national affairs would be transformed. This new reality would follow on from a development of a tropical modernism established in the 50s, when tropical school buildings where commissioned in Kumasi. The departure of many British expatriates marked a shift from the orthodoxy of the earlier decade, replacing it was a more fragmentary approach visible in a diversification of expressions and practices. In response to cultural, economic and political changes that accompanied independence, architects would rethink ideas around practice and references for discipline. Le Roux discusses how this experimental trajectory from early independence into the late sixties lost its momentum. A selection of activity in Nigeria and Ghana, including civil work on the Volta River and harbors, highlights work that was self-consciously engaged in the redefinition of architectural practice in relation to public culture.