Known as the state house, the presidential palace, and an assortment of other terms — the building that hosts a country’s seat of government is usually quite architecturally striking. Frequently opulent, grand, and sometimes imposing, the state house is intended to function as a visually distinct marker of a nation — an extension of a state’s identity. In the African continent, a landmass that had seen a significant part of it colonized by European nations, this identity of statehood, in an architectural sense, is complex.
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Striking a Balance: The Dilemma in Heritage Cities
Subject to the forces of capital, migrating populations, and political circumstances, our planet’s cities are constantly evolving. This continuous evolution is evident in the built fabric of settlements, as architects and planners build upon layers of the built environment, with some having the strenuous task of having to integrate the historic urban areas of cities successfully with contemporary architectural interventions and systems.
The Doors of the Coast: From Zanzibar to Oman
A defining feature of the architecture of the Swahili Coast—apart from its coral stone buildings and mangrove poles used to elaborate those structures—is undoubtedly the ornamented door so commonly found across this coastal area. Richly decorated, and historically often layered with meaning, these doors, apart from serving the more utilitarian function of an entrance, were also signifiers of status and wealth. From this Swahili Coast to the Arabian Peninsula, these doors of the coast are very much markers of their location, representative of trade and migration.
How Will We Live With Livestock?
As populations continue to migrate from rural to urban areas, space is at a premium. Many settlements are becoming ever-more congested – with adequate, affordable housing in short supply and transport systems struggling to serve their respective residents. But as much the conversation about urbanization is about people, it is sometimes also about the animals that come with those people – urban livestock that play a key role at providing sustenance on an individual level, in addition to becoming an avenue for communal trade.
The AI Image Generator: The Limits of the Algorithm and Human Biases
2022 has been the year of AI image generators. Over the past few years, these machine learning systems have been tweaked and refined, undergoing multiple iterations to find their present popularity with the everyday internet user. These image generators—DALL-E and Midjourney arguably the most prominent—generate imagery from a variety of text prompts, for instance allowing people to create conceptual renditions of architectures of the future, present, and past. But as we exist in a digital landscape filled with human biases—navigating these image generators requires careful reflection.
Africa at Architecture Biennials: Questioning Difficult Histories of Representation
From the Tbilisi Architecture Biennial to the Sharjah Architecture Triennial, architecture exhibitions are ever-increasing fixtures on cultural calendars around the contemporary world. New editions of architecture exhibitions rest on a foundation propagated by exhibitions of the past – and these historical expositions, to a great degree, have shaped the architectural discourse we have today. But as these exhibitions were born out of a western framework, African historical representations on the biennial and triennial architectural stage have often been reductive, with an assortment of cultures flattened into one, and distinct architectural styles meshed in an incoherent manner.
Color, Composition, and Scale: Analyzing Brutalist Photography
Sometimes sculptural and expressive, sometimes monolithic and monotonous, the Brutalist architectural style is equal parts diverse and divisive. From its origins as a by-product of the Modernism movement in the 1950s to today, Brutalist buildings, in architectural discourse, remain a popular point of discussion. A likely reason for this endurance is — with their raw concrete textures and dramatic shadows, brutalist buildings commonly photograph really well.
In Times of Need: Architects Stepping Up in Humanitarian Crisis
Hard times bring people together. In recent years we have seen how collective work can be a driving force to help those affected by natural or man-made disasters. After a disaster or displacement, a safe physical environment is often essential. Therefore, the need for coordination becomes a key factor in assisting people in times of need.
Atkins Unveils Design for the New Nairobi Central Station in Kenya
Atkins has revealed the final design of Nairobi’s new Central Railway Station and public realm. The project extends the historic station building, one of the city’s first stone structures, to raise its capacity to over 30,000 passengers per hour. The new additions take inspiration from the past, referencing the “Boma,” a community enclosure rooted in the heritage of central African culture. Built for flexibility and adaptability, the new station aims to become a key functional facility within the city, providing its citizens with amenities, landscape, and respite.
The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition Opens to the Public with an Exploration of the World's Mysteries
The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition has officially opened its doors to the public today. Titled Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries, the Triennale is displaying a selection of artwork and installations designed by 400 international architects and designers, questioning "what we don’t know we don’t know". Celebrating 100 years since its foundation, this year's exhibition presents a new way of looking at the mysteries of the world, seeing it as an opportunity to investigate subjects such as the furthest universe to dark matter and the origin of our conscience.