Rwanda’s largest publicly funded project, Bugesera International Airport is on track to be the first certified green building in the region. A few pieces of this net zero emission complex include: a 30,000 square metre passenger terminal, 22 check-in counters, ten gates, and six passenger boarding bridges. Funded by Public Private Partnership, the project is cost estimated at $414 million USD. The international hub was only one of several initiatives discussed by the Africa Green Growth Forum (AGGF) in Kigali at the end of last year.
Africa: The Latest Architecture and News
In the past three decades, Dubai has grown from a dusty desert town to a strategic hub for international business and tourism. As a result, several cities in the developing world have been competing to outdo one another in the race to replicate this development model—an urbanism largely built around the automobile, luxury villas, gleaming skyscrapers, massive shopping malls, and ambitious “smart” cities, designed and built from scratch. Across Africa, these new developments go by different names: Eko Atlantic City Nigeria, Vision City in Rwanda, Ebene Cyber City in Mauritius; Konza Technology City in Kenya; Safari City in Tanzania; Le Cite du Fleuve in DR Congo, and several others. All are mimicries of Dubai.
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill have broken ground on Alárò City, a new masterplan development that will connect to Lagos in southwest Nigeria. The mixed-use model community will feature an international trade gateway with a new seaport and airport. Designed for the Lagos State Government and Africa’s largest urban developer Rendeavour, the project is made to boost foreign direct investment to create an economic and cultural hub for West Africa.
"Kaira Looro Competition" is an international architecture competition aimed at raising awareness of the international community towards emerging architecture in developing countries. The new edition of the competition has as its theme is to create a pavilion for the promotion of universal peace which inspires contemplation, reflection, and prayer for those who unjustly lost their lives. The competition is organized by the Nonprofit Organization “Balouo Salo” engaged in Africa for humanitarian projects of architecture and support of disadvantaged communities, with the collaboration of the University of Tokyo, Kengo Kuma & Associates, Direction de la Culture de Sedhiou, Conseil Municipal de Sedhiou and others relevant parts.
Africa’s tallest skyscraper is set to begin construction in two weeks time. Designed by Spanish architects Rafael de la-Hoz Arquitectos and Moroccan firm CHB Cabinet Hakim Benjelloun, the 820-ft tall Bank of Africa Tower will take the title of tallest tower from the Carlton Centre in Johannesburg. Aiming for LEED Gold and HQE ratings, the tower will begin construction on November 1 and is expected be complete by May 30, 2022.
rise in the city is a unique international architecture competition for students and recent graduates worldwide. The challenge is to design affordable and sustainable housing solutions for Africa’s growing population. We invite all innovative problem solvers in the built environment to design a low-income housing prototype in an effort to curb Lesotho’s housing problem in an environment challenged by increased urban migration, climate change, and scarcity of resources.
After more than a decade, Egypt has returned to its plan to construct Africa's tallest building. Sited on the Nile River in central Cairo, the skyscraper was designed by the late Zaha Hadid in 2007. President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and the government are working with the project developers, Living in Interiors, to create the twisting "Nile Tower" with a design that will rise 70 stories. Overlooking views of Cairo, the Nile and the pyramids, the project hopes to symbolize Egypt's growth and the development of the country.
A collection of stones piled one on top of the other, dry stone is an iconic building method found just nearly everywhere in the world. Relying solely on an age-old craft to create sturdy, reliable structures and characterised by its rustic, interlocking shapes, the technique has deep roots that stretch back even before the invention of the wheel. Its principles are simple: stack the stones to create a unified, load-bearing wall. But the efficient, long-lasting results, coupled with the technique’s cultural significance, have lead to continued use and updated interpretations all the way to contemporary architecture today.
AMKNA, the Dubai-based studio, has been shortlisted for the 2018 World Architecture Festival, in recognition of their design proposal of a cultural center in Sedhiou, Senegal. The proposed “Sedhiou Cultural Center” will provide citizens with a rich cultural, social, and educational experience, all while sustaining the surrounding environment and keeping African heritage alive.
The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa—or Zeitz MOCAA for short—recently received first place in ArchDaily's Refurbishment in Architecture awards, with its striking design transforming a formerly derelict industrial building into an iconic landmark in South Africa’s oldest working harbor. Developed by the V&A Waterfront in Cape Town and designed by Heatherwick Studio, the mixed-use project is now “the world’s largest museum dedicated to contemporary art from Africa and its diaspora.” To celebrate the award, we sat down with group leader Matthew Cash to discuss the challenges faced during the project, its cultural importance to Africa, and the practice’s interest in refurbishment as a whole.
The Sharjah Architecture Triennial will open in November 2019 as "the first major platform for dialogue on architecture and urbanism in the Middle East, North Africa, East Africa and South Asia." Curator Adrian Lahoud has announced the theme of the Triennial as the Rights of Future Generations, aiming to fundamentally challenge traditional ideas about architecture and introduce new ways of thinking that veer from current Western-centric discourse.
Since the start of civil war in 1991, the political and architectural landscapes of the East African country of Somalia have been unstable. While the country’s urban centers, such as the capital city Mogadishu, boast a diverse fabric of historic mosques, citadels, and monuments alongside modernist civic structures, the decades of conflict have resulted in the destruction of many important structures. And, while the fighting has substantially subsided in recent years, the future of the country's architectural heritage is still far from secure.
In response, Somali architecture students from across the UK, Italy, and the United States have banded together to form Somali Architecture, an ongoing research project archiving and digitally "rebuilding" iconic structures through 3D models. Their goal is “to preserve the identity and authenticity” of Somalia through its architecture—both existing and destroyed. “We want each iconic building of the past to be reinterpreted for a more coherent future,” they say.
See below for a selection of the structures Somali Architecture has uncovered and re-constructed so far.
Results have been announced for the 5th Global LafargeHolcim Awards for Sustainable Construction, with three women-led teams awarded the gold, silver, and bronze positions. The design competition asked participants to speculate on future methods of balancing environmental performance, social responsibility and economic growth, “exemplifying architectural excellence and a high degree of transferability.”
The competition attracted over 5,000 submissions from 131 countries. Having been regionally assessed by juries in Europe, North America, Latin America, the Middle East/Africa and Asia Pacific, 55 successful proposals were entered for the global awards, where six winning schemes were selected.
Many children in Africa are forced to bear the brunt of attending schools with poor ventilation that can easily overheat under the African sun. WAYAiR’s proposal for a new school in Ulyankulu tackles the climate issue and provide an “educational village” respecting the local heritage and identity of the town. WAYAiR is a group of like-minded educators that for the last 25 years have developed their unique school program in Poznan, Poland using an art based educational program and now wish to share their expertise worldwide.
This article was originally published on Common Edge as "Making a Case for the Renaissance of Traditional African Architecture."
Last September, Nigerian Afrobeat musician Wizkid played to a sold-out house at the Royal Albert Hall in London, joining a growing list of illustrious African musicians, such as Selif Kaita, Youssou Ndour, Miriam Makeba and others, that have performed at that prestigious venue. This event affirmed the unfolding cultural renaissance across the continent, but it also signified the rising global influence of African music, movies, fashion, cuisine and the arts.
Sadly, traditional African architecture, especially in Sub-Saharan Africa, has not profited from this renaissance and has instead steadily lost its appeal across the continent. In spite of its towering influence in the pre-colonial era, it has largely failed to develop beyond the crude earthen walls and thatch roof architecture; for this reason it has remained unattractive to homeowners who often associate it with poverty. Consequently, the neglect of indigenous architecture has resulted in the dearth of skilled craftsmen knowledgeable in the art of traditional building, a reality that has further dimmed hopes for a revival of this architectural style.
Hundred-year-old cultures give birth to communities, being transmitted through rhymes of those who are narrating it and interpreting the past through wisdom. One’s accomplishments result from rituals and metamorphosis, bonding the human being to its own roots through dance, history, music, colors, flavors, materials and landscapes. Space and matter relate themselves to the power of rituals, drawing together the lines of an architecture encharged of passing and preserving history.
Are we going to follow a model of unsustainable building and construction similar to what I witnessed in China—or can we develop a uniquely African model of sustainable, and equitable development? I'm optimistic we can.
In this recent TED Talk, Christian Benimana talks about his journey as an architect—growing up in Rwanda, studying in China, and finally returning to Africa to see the beginnings of a building boom very similar to what he witnessed in Shanghai. Given this background, he then explains why he and MASS Design Group founded the African Design Center, a school and innovation center that intends to be a catalyst for positive urban development on the continent.
Recently I spent part of a week in the company of a multidisciplinary group of academics and researchers from Europe, the US, and Africa, at a workshop entitled “The Practice and Politics of DIY Urbanism in Africa.” Jonathan Makuwira, a professor from the Malawi University of Technology, delivered a compelling paper on “Disability and Urbanism in Malawi,” highlighting the many challenges of the continent’s disabled population, using that city as a case study.
The lecture reaffirmed my sentiments on the gross inadequacies of urban public spaces for the disabled. It’s an issue that formed the basis for my 2016 entry for the Richard Rogers Fellowship at the Harvard Graduate School of Design (GSD), where I had proposed to use the fellowship to develop a prescriptive accessible design blueprint for public spaces in the city of Abuja.