A quick glance today at the cities of the African continent reveals a rich diversity of urban settlements, ranging in type from rural enclaves to sprawling metropolises. That quick glance also reveals a larger picture of cities that are continuously adapting and evolving as we enter the decade of the 2020s – yet this evolution in many places is taking place at the expense of those who are less fortunate. This is not happening in a vacuum, as the reason why a lot of African cities look as they do today is a result of a segregated organization during colonial rule.
Africa: The Latest Architecture and News
"It’s Not Because You Are Limited in Resources That You Should Accept Mediocrity": Interview with Francis Kéré
African architecture has received deserved international attention in the last decade and one of the main responsible for this is, undoubtedly, Diébédo Francis Kéré. Born in Gando, Burkina Faso, Kéré graduated in architecture at the Technische Universität Berlin, in Germany. Today, he maintains branches of his firm, Kéré Architecture, in both countries, through which he seeks to develop works in the "intersection of utopia and pragmatism", exploring the border between Western architecture and local practice.
Known for involving community in the construction process of its buildings, Kéré and his office have developed works that go beyond the conventional limits of architecture and touch on themes such as local economy, migration, culture and equity. We had the pleasure and privilege of talking with the architect about some of his projects and his broader vision on architecture. Read the full interview below.
When examining the world of African cinema, there are few names more prominent than that of Senegalese director Ousmane Sembène. His films ‘La Noire de…’ and ‘Mandabi’, released in 1966 and 1968 respectively, are films that tell evocative stories on the legacies of colonialism, identity, and immigration. And whilst these two films are relatively slow-spaced, ‘slice-of-life stories, they also offer a valuable spatial critique of the setting where the films are based, providing a helpful framework to understand the intricacies of the post-colonial African city, and the contrast between the African and European metropolises.
This article was originally published on Common Edge.
In spite of the lull in the global construction industry over the last couple of years, megacity projects in Africa have continued unabated, as new developments are springing up in major cities all over the continent. Though we’re inspired by the growth of modern African cities and the opportunities offered to city residents, we shouldn’t ignore their shortcomings, the glaring disconnect between the utopian visions of local city officials and the economic and cultural realities of the local populations who live here. Many questions whether these new cities could be built in other ways, or if Africans will ever have an alternative to the current model of placemaking, hodgepodge urbanism foisted on it, largely by colonialists.
Adjaye Associates has unveiled the design of The Africa Institute, the first center of its kind dedicated to the advanced study and research of Africa and the African diaspora living in the Arab world. The 31,882-square-meter campus will be built in downtown Sharjah, UAE, and will "introduce an entirely new type of thinking and mission into the global academic arena".
Amancio d'Alpoim Miranda Guedes, known as Pancho Guedes was an architect, painter, sculptor, and educator that is revered as one of the earliest post-modernist architects in Africa. Throughout his career, he has contributed to more than 500 building designs which were often characterized as eclectic, bringing together Lusophone African influence with his unique surrealist and experimental artistic style. It is said that having worked mainly in Mozambique, Angola, South Africa, and Portugal, Pancho Guedes was less well known than he ought to have been in the rest of the world, as he is a leading figure in modern African architecture.
Founder of the Berlin-based firm Kéré Architecture, Francis Kéré, has won the 2021 Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medal in Architecture. Presented by the University of Virginia and the Thomas Jefferson Foundation at Monticello, the award is one of four honors recognizing achievements in architecture, citizen leaderships, global innovation, and law. The Thomas Jefferson Foundation Medals recognize the exemplary contributions of recipients to the endeavors in which Jefferson excelled and held in high regard.