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Africa: The Latest Architecture and News

Sebastian Irarrazaval Proposes Urban Solution to Political Turmoil with Trans-Border African Cities

As the continent with the fastest growing population in the world, African frontiers will soon become attractive areas for urban settlements and the potential for conflicts arising from colonial borders may inhibit necessary economic growth. Colonialism’s legacy continues to spark conflict revolving around arbitrary borders established by Europeans in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries with no regard for ethnic, linguistic, and religious disparities across the continent. These decisions resulted in the separation of cultural communities within each nation and the creation of political boundaries that often did not reflect shared civil interests. Consequently sub-Saharan Africa has experienced sustained conflicts in the years following independence, resulting in diminished potential for further economic development in many regions. Today, border disputes have led to a rise in separatist movements in numerous countries, but African governments are hesitant to abandon the colonial borders to avoid further disruptive conflicts.

As political approaches to this issue continue to be extremely contentious, an architectural intervention at the urban scale proposed by Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos may be the key to a prosperous cultural and economic future for Africa. In their concept for an ideal African city, Sebastian Irarrázaval and his team have conceptualized their solution as a network of trans-border cities. This set of “bi-national urban entities” will serve to erase the old colonial borders and "will reintegrate the continent as it was prior to European domination when cultural and economic exchange flourished."

Find out how the proposal aims to address some of Africa’s longest-standing social and political problems after the break

© Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos © Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos © Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos © Sebastian Irarrazaval Arquitectos + 21

Valode & Pistre Set to Break Ground on Africa's Tallest Tower

Valode & Pistre is set to break ground on Africa’s tallest tower next June. More than doubling the height of Johannesburg’s 223-meter Carlton Center, which has been the continent’s tallest building since 1973, the Al Noor Tower (Tower of Light) will most likely rise 540-meters on a 25-hectare site in the Moroccan city of Casablanca.

It’s program will center around business, providing accommodations with a 200-suite luxury hotel, a trading platform, conference hall and large art gallery, as well as an astonishing 100-meter-tall atrium that hollows the tower’s base.  

© Valode & Pistre / iceberg.fr © Valode & Pistre / iceberg.fr © Valode & Pistre / iceberg.fr © Valode & Pistre / iceberg.fr + 12

12 Projects Win Regional Holcim Awards 2014 for Africa Middle East

Teams from Turkey and Lebanon have received top honors in the 2014 regional Holcim Awards for Africa Middle East, an award which recognizes the most innovative and advanced sustainable construction designs. Among the top three winners is an “Eco-Park” sustainable research and technology center embedded within the terraced, industrial landscape of Ankara.

The 12 recognized projects will share over $300,000 in prize money, with the top three projects overall going on to be considered for the global Holcim Awards, to be selected in 2015.

The full list of Africa Middle East winners, after the break…

In Discussion With David Adjaye

In an interview with Rowan Moore for The Observer, British born architect David Adjaye discusses his work, personality and ambitions as head of the one of the fastest growing internationally operating practices. With Moore's immersive descriptions and expertly written narrative, the "breadth of Adjaye's vision" becomes apparent. Featuring precise descriptions of some his upcoming projects, including the designs for the Smithsonian's National Museum of African American History and Culture and a number of smaller buildings in London, Moore's discussion ultimately explores Adjaye's early (and successful) steps into the African architectural market. You can read the interview in full here.

How Chinese Urbanism Is Transforming African Cities

This article from Metropolis delves into China’s urban development of many African cities, and the effect this has had on the architectural quality of those cities. Chinese contractors and architects are able to propel a city’s growth at lower cost and on schedule, but in doing so, they out-compete local companies and ignore cultural context. Is this an acceptable trade-off? Read the full article and decide for yourself.

The factory of the world has a new export: urbanism. More and more Chinese-made buildings, infrastructure, and urban districts are sprouting up across Africa, and this development is changing the face of the continent’s cities.

Or so says Dutch research studio Go West Project , who have been tracking this phenomenon for their on-going project about the export of the Chinese urban model to Africa. Since 2012, the group, made up of Shanghai-based architect Daan Roggeveen and Amsterdam-based journalist Michiel Hulshof, have visited six African cities to do research. Roggeveen and Hulshof recently released their preliminary report in an issue of Urban China, a magazine focusing on Chinese urban development.

Bamboo: A Viable Alternative to Steel Reinforcement?

Developing countries have the highest demand for steel-reinforced concrete, but often do not have the means to produce the steel to meet that demand. Rather than put themselves at the mercy of a global market dominated by developed countries, Singapore’s Future Cities Laboratory suggests an alternative to this manufactured rarity: bamboo. Abundant, sustainable, and extremely resilient, bamboo has potential in the future to become an ideal replacement in places where steel cannot easily be produced.

TED Talk: How to Build with Clay... and Community / Diébédo Francis Kéré

In this TED Talk, Aga Khan Award-winning architect Diébédo Francis Kéré explains how to build a community with clay. With his firm Kéré Architecture, the Burkina Faso native has achieved international renown by using local building materials and techniques to engage and improve local expertise. Watch as explains how he applied his personal success to benefit the small African village he grew up in.

MASS Design Group Joins African Education Initiative

Together with the African Wildlife Foundation (AWF), MASS Design Group is helping to build 15 conservation primary schools over the next 10 years in African landscapes, home to some of world's most important wildlife populations, including elephants, rhinos, great apes, and lions. They will design non-traditional educational campuses for primary school children that offer lessons and other services extending beyond the classroom walls.

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

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

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, www.nkafoundation.org, or email at info@nkafoundation.org

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

Mosquée d’Algérie / 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 Courtesy of KSP Juergen Engel Architekten + 6

Mosque  · 
Algeria, Algeria
  • Architects Authors of this architecture project KSP Jürgen Engel Architekten
  • Area Area of this architecture project
  • Project Year Brands with products used in this architecture project
    2016
  • Developer

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

Sightlines: New Perspectives on African Architecture and Urbanism

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

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

perspective
perspective

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

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.