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 . 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 ’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.

Clifton 2A / SAOTA

© Adam Letch

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

FIRTH 114802 / Three14 Architects

© Adam Letch

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

House Steyn II / Thomas Gouws Architecs + Interiors

© Dook Courtesy of VISI magazine

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

Silver Bay / SAOTA

© Adam Letch

Architects: SAOTA
Location: Shelley Point, , South
Design Team: Greg Truen, Yusuf Vahed, Mark Rielly, Ashleigh Gilmour, Silvia Eigelaar
Year: 2010
Photographs: Adam Letch, Enda Cavanagh

Studio Origin Represents Seoul in the UIA 2014 World Congress

Interior View. Image © Studio Origin

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.

Gangouroubouro Primary School / LEVS architecten

Courtesy of

Architects: LEVS architecten
Contractor: Enterprise Dara (Sevaré, Mopti) in collaboration with students of the Technical College in Sevaré and with the local population of Gangouroubouro
Area: 295.0 sqm
Year: 2013
Photographs: Courtesy of LEVS architecten

Cove 3 / SAOTA

Courtesy of

Architects: SAOTA
Location: Knysna,
Design Team: Greg Truen & Roxanne Kaye
Area: 1005.0 sqm
Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of SAOTA, John Devonport, Micky Hoyle courtesy of VISI

105 Corlett Drive / Paragon Architects

© Andrew Bell

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

House in the Mountains / Wolff Architects

© James Puttick

Architects: Wolff Architects
Location: Cederberg, ,
Architect In Charge: Heinrich Wolff
Year: 2013
Photographs: James Puttick , Courtesy of Heinrich Wolff

UIA World Congress Reveals Architecture’s Other Side

Rahul Mehrotra’s designs for an office building in Hyderabad exemplify the social agenda of architecture which dominated discussions at this year’s World Congress. Image © Carlos Chen

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.

Harper’s review also singles out the “electrifying” keynote speech of Rahul Mehrotra, who explained how he used his architecture to bridge social and cultural gaps while still serving his clients’ needs, in projects such as his Hyderabad offices. You can see him discuss these ideas in our interview with Mehrotra here:

AD Interviews: Rahul Mehrotra / RMA Architects

Morvest Headquarters / Anthrop Architects

© Dewald van Helsdingen

Architects: Anthrop Architects
Location: Noordwyk, Midrand,
Year: 2013
Photographs: Dewald van Helsdingen

Hillside / GASS Architecture Studios

© Kate Del Fante Scott

Architects: GASS Architecture Studios
Location: Stellenbosch,
Onsite Project Architect: Chris Bakker
Principal Architect: Georg van Gass
Year: 2013
Photographs: Kate Del Fante Scott

Pearl Bay residence / Gavin Maddock Design Studio

© Adam Letch

Architects: Gavin Maddock Design Studio
Location: ,
Photographs: Adam Letch

Kirstenbosch Centenary tree canopy walkway / Mark Thomas Architects

© Adam Harrower

Architects: Mark Thomas Architects
Location: Kirstenbosch Botanical Gardens, Cape Town,
Architect In Charge: Mark Thomas, Christopher Bisset
Photographs: Adam Harrower

House Liebmann / Daffonchio and Associates

Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates

Architects: Daffonchio and Associates
Location: , South
Principal Architect: Enrico Daffonchio
Project Architect: Leigh Maurtin
Photographs: Courtesy of Daffonchio and Associates

House 02, Hyde Park / Daffonchio & Associates Architects

© Adam Letch

Architects: Daffonchio & Associates Architects
Location: Hyde Park, ,
Architect In Charge: Enrico Daffonchio
Project Team: Frances Joynt
Photographs: Adam Letch

House 01, Hyde Park / Daffonchio & Associates Architects

© Adam Letch

Architects: Daffonchio & Associates Architects
Location: Hyde Park, ,
Project Team: Frances Joynt
Photographs: Adam Letch