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Issa Diabaté on His Work Reshaping Urban Africa

In a video interview with BBC news, Issa Diabaté of Koffi- Diabaté Architects discusses the need for an improvement in the urban fabric of Africa, and specifically in the city of Abidjan in Côte d’Ivoire, where he has been working for the past 20 years. “It’s not by building one house after the next that we will have an impact on the city…I feel that the architects of tomorrow, especially in African cities, need to become developers, to actually imprint his or her vision on the city,” he says in the video. “There are no better ways of integrating issues of sustainability or issues of density than by doing it yourself.”

Watch the video after the break. 

Outreach Foundation / Local Studio

© David Southwood © David Southwood © David Southwood © David Southwood

Social Development Project / Indalo + Collectif Saga

  • Architects: Indalo, Collectif Saga
  • Location: Port Elizabeth, South Africa
  • Partners : Alliance Française de Port Elizabeth Werk_ Engineers Without Borders Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University
  • Design Team: Kevin Kimwelle, Anastasia Rohaut, Pierre Guérin, Camille Sablé, Sylvain Guitard, Simon Galland, Jason Dinant, Maguelonne Gorioux, Nolwenn Gervais, Pauline Richard, Cécile Jaouen, Eglantine Bulka, Eva Fojtu, Andrès Sanchez, Adèle Bertrand
  • Area: 138.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2015
  • Photographs: Joubert Loots, Maguelonne Gorioux

© Joubert Loots © Joubert Loots © Joubert Loots © Joubert Loots

Denis Hurley Centre / Ruben Reddy Architects

© Angela Buckland Photography © Angela Buckland Photography © Angela Buckland Photography © Angela Buckland Photography

How the “Moladi” System is Making Affordable Housing More Accessible in South Africa

Design Indaba, in collaboration with the C-City Design Museum in Kerkrade, the Netherlands, has selected Hennie Botes’ “Moladi” for their new exhibit: “Design For A Better World | Innovations For People.” The exhibit aims to raise awareness of the significance of design by selecting projects relevant to current issues worldwide. Based out of Port Elizabeth, South Africa, Moladi has provided a solution to the problem of affordable housing since 1986.

Learn more about the construction system and its benefits for affordable housing projects after the break. 

Courtesy of Moladi Courtesy of Moladi Courtesy of Moladi Courtesy of Moladi

Open Call: TREEHOUSING Seeks Innovative Wood Housing and Urban Building Solutions

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and DBR | Design Build Research School are now seeking entries for TREEHOUSING, an international wood design competition. Housing for the world’s growing urban population and the threat of deforestation are two of the most significant issues facing humanity today. TREEHOUSING challenges architecture students, professional architects and designers to develop innovative wood housing and urban building solutions through two distinct open competitions: TREEHOUSING DURBAN | Tall Wood Housing and TREEHOUSING GLOBAL | Affordable Wood Housing. Read on to learn more. 


  • Architects: SAOTA
  • Location: Bantry Bay, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Design Team: Philip Olmesdahl, Tamaryn Fourie & Joe Schützer-Weissmann
  • Interior Decor: Studio Parkington
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Adam Letch

© Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch

7 Architects Designing a Diverse Future in Africa

As the legacy of the Cold War fades and Western preeminence gradually becomes a thing of the past, population booms in Asia followed by the growth of a vast non-western middle class have seriously challenged the Western perception of the world. The East has become the focal point of the world’s development.

If East Asia is the present focal point of this development, the future indisputably lies in Africa. Long featuring in the Western consciousness only as a land of unending suffering, it is now a place of rapidly falling poverty, increasing investment, and young populations. It seems only fair that Africa’s rich cultures and growing population (predicted to reach 1.4 billion by 2025) finally take the stage, but it’s crucially important that Africa’s future development is done right. Subject to colonialism for centuries, development in the past was characterized by systems that were designed for the benefit of the colonists. Even recently, resource and energy heavy concrete buildings, clothes donations that damage native textile industries, and reforestation programs that plant water hungry and overly flammable trees have all been seen, leaving NGOs open to accusations of well-meaning ignorance.

Fortunately, a growth in native practices and a more sensible, sensitive approach from foreign organizations has led to the rise of architectural groups creating buildings which learn from and improve Africa. Combining local solutions with the most appropriate Western ideas, for the first time these new developments break down the perception of monolithic Africa and have begun engaging with individual cultures; using elements of non-local architecture when they improve a development rather than creating a pastiche of an imagined pan-African culture. The visions these groups articulate are by no means the same - sustainable rural development, high end luxury residences and dignified civic constructions all feature - but they have in common their argument for a bright future across Africa. We’ve collected seven pioneers of Africa’s architectural awakening - read on after the break for the full article and infographic.

Pretoria's Freedom Park, designed by MMA Design Studio with GAPP Architects and MRA Architects. Image Courtesy of MMA Design Studio, GAPP Architects and MRA Architects The Makoko Floating School in Lagos, Nigeria. Image © NLÉ Architects Butaro Hospital in Rwanda. Image © Iwan Baan Red Pepper House in Lamu, Kenya. Image © Alberto Heras

Clifton 2A / SAOTA

  • Architects: SAOTA
  • Location: Clifton, Cape Town, South Africa
  • Design Team: Philip Olmesdahl, Tamaryn Fourie, Thaabe Ramabina
  • Interior Design: Janine Lazard Interiors
  • Area: 1120.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Adam Letch

© Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch

FIRTH 114802 / Three14 Architects

  • Architects: Three14 Architects
  • Location: Cape Town, South Africa
  • Design Team: Kim Benatar, Sian Fisher, Miles Appelgryn
  • Contractor: Base Projects
  • Area: 340.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2014
  • Photographs: Adam Letch

© Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch © Adam Letch

House Steyn II / Thomas Gouws Architecs + Interiors

  • Architects: Thomas Gouws Architecs + Interiors
  • Location: Johannesburg, South Africa
  • Architect in Charge: Thomas Gouws, Sureen Gouws
  • Area: 510.0 sqm
  • Project Year: 2010
  • Photographs: Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine, Courtesy of Thomas Gouws, Karl Rogers

© Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine © Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine Courtesy of Thomas Gouws © Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine

Studio Origin Represents Seoul in the UIA 2014 World Congress

This year’s UIA World Congress was held in Durban, South Africa, and saw the participation of many well-respected firms. Representing South Korea were Kang Jun Lee and Yung A Kim of Studio Origin, whose pavilion highlighted the city of Seoul. Meant to herald the city as the host for the 2017 World Congress, their carefully arranged design offers space for a number of different promotional displays. See the details on this unique structure, after the break.

105 Corlett Drive / Paragon Architects

© Andrew Bell
© Andrew Bell
  • Architects: Paragon Architects
  • Location: 105 Corlett Drive, Johannesburg, 2196, South Africa
  • Architect in Charge: Anthony Orelowitz, Carla Soudien, Kate Keightly-Smith, John Peska, Yumna Ismail, Tom Hill
  • Project Year: 2013
  • Photographs: Andrew Bell

© Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell © Andrew Bell

UIA World Congress Reveals Architecture's Other Side

With the International Union of Architects (UIA)'s World Congress taking place last month, the eyes of the architecture world were on South Africa where - according to Phineas Harper of the Architectural Review - the conference was full of architects of all backgrounds with "irrepressible energy," sharing ideas on how architecture can be used for social good with an urgency that is somewhat unfamiliar in the Western world. "Whoever said architecture was stale, male and pale should have been in Durban," says Harper. You can read the full review of the event here.