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Africa: The Latest Architecture and News

Why LEED Doesn’t Work in Rural Africa and What Will

13:18 - 20 May, 2013
Learning Center embellished with thousands of bottle caps; Courtesy of Charles Newman of Afritekt
Learning Center embellished with thousands of bottle caps; Courtesy of Charles Newman of Afritekt

Originally published on Intercon, Ohioan and Africa-based architect Charles Newman, LEED AP discusses the pitfalls of LEED in rural Africa. Newman, who is currently working for the International Rescue Committee in Bukavu, Democratic Republic of Congo, is dedicated to the integration of sustainability in communities worldwide. Learn more about his work and travels on his blog Afritekt.

While in a small southern town of the Democratic Republic of Congo in mid-2012, a colleague of mine approached me for some guidance on a large health proposal he was putting together. A portion of the grant would be earmarked for the construction of hundreds of clinics across the DR Congo, and he mentioned that the donor would be very interested in “green” building standards. Knowing that I was a LEED Accredited Professional, he began asking how we might be able to incorporate such building standards into the designs for the pending projects. I rattled off some general guidelines such as using local materials – recycled ones if available, incorporating existing infrastructure, natural ventilation, etc. He jotted down a few notes, then began to pry a little deeper. “What about the LEED point system? Could we incorporate that into our strategy?”

My response was frank: “No, not really. LEED doesn’t work here in rural Africa.”

How to Re-Invent the African Mud Hut

00:00 - 2 November, 2012
How to Re-Invent the African Mud Hut, Courtesy of Nka Foundation
Courtesy of Nka Foundation

It’s not often that a project requires you to bulk up on your haggling skills.

Then again, it’s not often that a project requires you to re-invent the African Mud Hut either. But that was exactly the task presented to Karolina and Wayne Switzer, participants of the Nka Foundation’s “10x10 Shelter Challenge” to design and build a 10 by 10 feet shelter deep in the heart of Ghana.

The pair, who just completed their project this month, were dependent upon the local community to make the shelter a reality, and had to learn early on how to communicate with the locals - not just to negotiate prices for materials and labor, but to overcome the local stigma associated with mud architecture (usually only used by the very poor). 

The result was a contemporary, durable shelter built with a construction method inspired by local tradition: the pounding of the fufu root, a diet staple for the community, which uncannily paralleled the pounding of fresh soil into the forms. Hence the local’s name for the structure: “Obruni fufu” (white man’s fufu). 

If you’re interested in getting involved in the 10x10 Challenge (open to students and graduates of design, architecture, art, or engineering, until October 2013), check out the Nka Foundation’s website,, or email at

Full description of the project, after the break....

Mosquée d’Algérie / KSP Juergen Engel Architekten

10:00 - 8 November, 2011
Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten
Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten

Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten + 6

  • Developer

    ANARGEMA (Agence Nationale de Réalisation de Gestion de la Mosquée d’Algérie)

Sightlines: New Perspectives on African Architecture and Urbanism

12:30 - 21 January, 2011

The Museum for African Art, New York, and Columbia University’s Institute of African Studies, Committee on Global Thought, and Center for African Education have announced the creation of Sightlines: New Perspectives on African Architecture and Urbanism, a lecture series devoted to Africa’s rapidly changing urban environments.

Sightlines will comprise talks by distinguished practitioners of architecture, urban planning, and architectural theory, each of whom will apply his or her particular area of expertise to the exploration of contemporary African cities as unique built environments. The lectures, which will be open to the public free of charge (see schedule below), will examine the architectural, social, physical, and emotional contours of the cities, while also addressing the global relevance and applicability of this emerging field of discourse. Sightlines additionally includes a lecture by Senegalese artist Viyé Diba, whose work is tied to urbanization.

Complete lectures schedule after the break.

OMA Announces New Partners

13:00 - 3 January, 2011

Today OMA announced the appointment of Iyad Alsaka and David Gianotten as new partners in the company. Architectural and research projects in North Africa, the Middle East and Asia have been increasing for OMA and this recent appointment signifies their investment to grow and develop projects within these regions.

A New University for Angola / Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company

12:00 - 11 December, 2010

In a bold move meant to transform the future and fate of young people in the Bié province of Angola, the non-profit, SHAREcircle, awarded the commission of a master plan for a new university to U.S.-based Hanbury Evans Wright Vlattas + Company, architects and planners. The plan, which will include the design of a first academic building for Angola Central Highlands University, was the result of an international design competition. More images and project description after the break.

Botswana Innovation Hub / SHoP Architects

21:00 - 21 June, 2010

Ousting 17 other companies from Europe, USA and Africa, SHoP Architects was awarded first prize for their design of the Botswana Innovation Hub. The 270,000 sqf office and research building will be a testament to Botswana’s support of research, as well as her promotion of innovation and entrepreneurship.

More about the winning design after the break.