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7 Architects Designing a Diverse Future in Africa

10:30 - 26 February, 2015

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 + 29

Guardian Invites Readers to Submit the Best City Ideas for World Cities Day

01:00 - 28 October, 2014
Guardian Invites Readers to Submit the Best City Ideas for World Cities Day, © NLÉ architects
© NLÉ architects

With the first ever World Cities Day taking place on Friday, the Guardian is partnering with UN Habitat for the Cities Day Challenge, a day-long competition where representatives of 36 cities around the world will present their best city ideas, with the winner being selected for an in-depth article in the Guardian. Judged by Ivan Harbour of Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, Toronto City Planner Jennifer Keesmaat; Anna Minton, Dan Hill, Usman Haque and Adam Greenfield, the Guardian will be live-tweeting the entire day.

They are also reaching out to readers to "share your photos, videos and stories of something brilliant that your city does better than any other," some of which they will feature throughout the day. You can follow this link to contribute - or read on after the break as we take the opportunity to round up some of the biggest city ideas that have passed through the pages of ArchDaily.

PLOT's Copenhagen Harbour Bath has been a hugely successful precedent in the urban swimming trend. Image © Casper Dalhoff +Pool, the biggest ever urbanist project on kickstarter, hopes to reclaim a piece of New York's Hudson River for Swimmers. Image © Family, PlayLab Acting as Christchurch's cathedral until the actual cathedral is rebuilt, Shigeru Ban's Cardboard structure has been hugely popular. Image © Bridgit Anderson One of the most successful ways of pushing a social housing agenda has been ELEMENTAL's 'Half Finished House' typology. Image Courtesy of ELEMENTAL + 12

Round-Up: Floating Architecture

00:00 - 9 April, 2014
Round-Up: Floating Architecture, © NLÉ architects
© NLÉ architects

If a Ted Talk by Koen Olthius, this article in the Guardian, and Brazil's pioneering plan (currently in the pipeline) are anything to go by, now may be the time for futuristic, floating cities to become a reality. With that in mind, we've taken the opportunity to gather the best examples of floating architecture already constructed, including: a low-cost floating school in Lagos; an entire floating neighborhood in Ijburg, Amsterdam; a trio of cultural buildings in Seoul's Han River; a set of hotels in a remote area of Cisnes, Chile; and finally a beautiful home on Lake Union in Seattle. Enjoy!

Material Inspiration: 10 Projects Inspired by Wood

01:00 - 11 December, 2013
Material Inspiration: 10 Projects Inspired by Wood

To celebrate the launch of ArchDaily Materials, our new product catalog, we've rounded up 10 awesome projects from around the world that were inspired by one material: wood. Check out the projects after the break...

Makoko Floating School / NLE Architects

01:00 - 14 March, 2013
Makoko Floating School / NLE Architects, Makoko Floating School © NLÉ architects
Makoko Floating School © NLÉ architects