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A Remarkably Comprehensive New Guide to the Architecture of Sub-Saharan Africa

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Compared to that of the West and East, awareness and knowledge of the architecture of sub-Saharan Africa—Africa south of the Sahara Desert—is scant. A new book intends to mitigate this oversight, and it’s a significant accomplishment. Architectural Guide Sub-Saharan Africa (DOM publishers, 2021), edited by Philipp Meuser, Adil Dalbai, and Livingstone Mukasa, was more than six years in the making. The seven-volume guide presents architecture in the continent’s 49 sub-Saharan nation-states, includes contributions by nearly 340 authors, 5,000 photos, more than 850 buildings, and 49 articles expressly devoted to theorizing African architecture in its social, economic, historical, and cultural context. I interviewed two of the editors—Adil Dalbai, an architectural researcher and practitioner specializing in sub-Saharan Africa, and Livingstone Mukasa, a native Ugandan architect interested in the intersections of architectural history and cultural anthropology—about the challenges of creating the guide, some of its revelations about the architecture of Africa, and its potential impact.

Chicago City Guide: 23 Buildings You Shouldn’t Miss

On August 12, 1833, the Town of Chicago had roughly 200 inhabitants. Four years later, in 1837, it was upgraded to The City of Chicago – an interesting fact given that there are still 19 incorporated towns in Illinois. The Great Chicago Fire of 1871 killed 300 people, destroyed about 3.3 square miles (9 km2), and left more than 100,000 residents homeless. However, by that time Chicago had become the world’s fastest-growing city and its population had risen over 300,000 inhabitants. The fire meant these ambitious citizens had to start again.

With admirable strength, the city was reborn from the ashes and some of Chicago’s best architecture was constructed immediately after. Structures like the Rookery Building (1888, Frank Lloyd Wright), the Auditorium Building (1889, Louis Sullivan) and the Monadnock Building (1893, Burnham & Root, Holabird & Roche) are a few examples of the high standards the city was aiming for.

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Valparaiso Architecture Guide: Places to Visit in Chile's Jewel of the Pacific

Situated at the foot of 45 hills along the Chilean coast, Valparaíso was a key port in the South Pacific during the 20th century before the construction of the Panama Canal. Thanks to its rapid industrial and commercial growth, the port underwent an urban transformation, attracting thousands of foreigners and cementing its reputation as a bustling South American cosmopolis rich in society, culture, and architecture.  

Described by The Guardian as a "Berlin by the seaside", Valparaiso's historic downtown was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2003 and the city's cultural and architectural wealth make it a must-see for tourists and architecture aficionados alike.

In this article, we present a guide written by one of the city's many enthusiasts that will give a complete and in-depth look at the port's many treasures. The guide is written as if for a walking tour, starting in Plaza Sotomayor, the city's main square. The route can be divided into two days, with the first part ending at the Palacio Baburizza and the second beginning with the Valparaiso Cultural Park. Take a tip from the experts--if you get lost, don't trust an app to find your way. Ask a local!

An Architectural Guide to Guatemala City

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© Andrés Asturias

This guide is not a catalog. It is an open invitation to walk around the city and learn more about the architecture in Guatemala City.

The Guide to Modern Architecture in Guatemala City was written by Raúl Monterroso, Gemma Gil, and photographed by Andrés Asturias. In partnership with The Cultural Center of Spain in Guatemala, the guide addresses a descriptive analysis of 35 buildings, structured in five different routes, with the aim of not only synthesizing a series of physical characteristics but to provoke a reflexive, analytical and critical observation of the environment.

As Raúl Monterroso points out, while he shares five sites that every architect must visit, the goal is to introduce people to Guatemala's modern movement. It is an invitation to walk through the city and identify it with a different built heritage, however one that also shapes the landscape and fits into the urban context. Learn more about modern architecture in Latin America, below.

A Guide to Contemporary Architecture in Cuernavaca, Mexico

Cuernavaca, located just a few hours from Mexico City, is one of the most visited places in the country thanks to its history, weather, and architecture. The city has eleven declared historical sites, such as the Cortés Palace, the Cuernavaca Cathedral, the Borda Garden, the Calvario Spire, Teopanzolco, Chapultepec Nature Park, the Cuernavaca Kite, and the Hotel Casino de la Selva, among others. For the past few years, Cuernavaca has experienced a boom in contemporary architecture, starting with the Tallera building which was built in 2010 by Mexican architect Frida Escobedo. The project gave life to the Siqueiros murals and all the history behind them.

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Architecture Guide: Luis Barragán

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Top 10 Architectural Photography Locations in Bogotá

If you're an architecture aficionado, the Colombian capital of Bogota should be high on your list. The city's architecture contains bits and pieces from throughout the country's history, from colonial structures to classical designs from the time of the Republic.

If you're a first time visitor to Bogotá —or a native tourist in your own city— we recommend this architecture guide for the top 10 locations to capture the city's best works.

Architecture City Guide: 15 Places Every Architect Should Visit in Córdoba, Argentina

Located in the central region of Argentina, the historic city of Córdoba is the second most populated city in the country; which means it can be considered an important center for culture, education, and finance. Its dense historic center is characterized by the presence of brick -a product of the work of Togo Díaz- and the particular landscape that links the urban with the natural, resulting in an exclusive atmosphere that invites us to walk its streets.

The characteristic culture of Córdoba is evident in its urban public spaces, its natural streams and its pedestrian areas; where one can appreciate the heterogeneity of classical, modern and contemporary architecture. Below is a list of 15 sites that every architect should visit.

Architecture City Guide: 10 Towns in Colombia That Every Architect Must Visit

Calm and silence prevail in many of the municipalities of Colombia, where the ochre colors intermingle with the green of the landscape to preserve the colonial styles that characterize some of the architectural typologies of the place. Small urban centers that hide an incomparable beauty are the main attraction for many tourists who today travel to know these obscure places, where one can go to learn a little of their traditions and their culture, creating an almost perfect adventure, where heritage value becomes a characteristic in common.

That is why we have chosen 10 Colombian towns that highlight both the physical-spatial value and the socio-cultural value.

A Guide to Modern Architecture in Lima, Peru: 16 Projects to Visit

As tends to occur in various Latin American capitals, the historical center of Lima —also known as Cercado de Lima— faces simultaneous processes of deterioration, conservation and transformation. Wandering through its streets, its neo-colonial and republican architecture mixes with some major architectural projects which came about during Peru's modernist movement: "golden age" of public architecture during the mid 20th century.

In 1947, the invasion of Agrupación Espacio, the remodeling Lima's Plaza de Armas and the widening of streets such as Tacna Avenue and Wilson Avenue kickstarted Peru's entrance into the modern movement. In Lima's historic center the works of Enrique Seoane Ros and Walter Weberhofer introduced a new formal and structural language to the streets, with projects that reveal the city's structural elements, functional designs, windows, terraces and commercial buildings, exemplified by an optimistic vision of the future. Despite initial reluctance, all of these projects were backed by a state that enthusiastically focused on planning for over two decades in the design of its cities and the construction of large neighborhood units, such as PREVI and the San Felipe Residential.

Architects Alejandra Acevedo and Michelle Llona explain that despite its undisputed legacy, the modernist movement in Peru is not legally protected. As authors of the important text CAMMP, the two aforementioned architects authored a book that informed the approach of this article. In this new addition to our Spanish-language guides of modern Latin American architecture, we present 16 historical projects from the historic center of Lima, complete with a map and suggestion for a 3-hour walking tour.

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This Curated List of Art Museums Showcases Buenos Aires’ Exhibition Architecture

Even in the age of instant information, museums enthrall us. Lining the tourist guidebooks of cities across the world, art museums are a must-see destination for visitors and locals alike. However, as our methods of communication and archiving change, driven by science and innovation, historic institutions such as art museums must keep up.

In cities around the world, art museums are redefining themselves to respond to the contemporary, experimental demands of the 21st-century. In Buenos Aires, the architecture of art museums showcases a diverse catalog of form, materiality and atmosphere, blending the instant, flexible demands of the modern age with a historic role of archiving some of humanity's most evocative works.

Below, we paint a picture of Buenos Aires' diverse art museums, showcasing the changing nature of exhibition architecture in one of the world’s most energetic cities.

A Guide to Santiago's Modern Architecture: 20 Projects You Need to Know About

The modern movement was a key player in the cultural construction of Chile in the 20th century. Although the first projects came from the private sector, their urban and landscape principles were adopted by the modernizing project of the welfare state that began to be built after the social conflicts that exploded in the 1920s.

During chile's industrialization process, the State's housing construction incorporated concepts such as liveability, and universal access to housing and sanitation, which were put to the test early on in the reconstruction of cities such as Chillán after the 1939 earthquake. As Chile is a country that is familiar with earthquakes, it was necessary to readjust the concepts of the modern movement to national structural requirements, that is, resizing the reinforced concrete sections, which gave them a heavier visual expression than in Brazil or Argentina.

From the daring vision of Sergio Larraín García-Moreno and Jorge Arteaga in the Oberpaur building - the first of the modern movement - to the urban visions of BVCH in the Villa Portales, or the first exercises in height in the upper middle class sectors, the modern movement has left its mark on our society and in our cities. However, only one of the projects presented here is declared a historical monument.

In this edition of the architectural guides, we present you twenty chronologically ordered projects that reflect the evolution of the modern movement in Santiago, Chile.

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10 Archaeological Sites That Every Architect Should Visit in Peru

In Peru, you can not live without not knowing about or learning the lessons of the thousand-year-old architectural legacy of some of its many archaeological sites (19,903 to be exact). These places are full of inspiration, art, history, legends, and magic. Their stories are closely tied to their architecture and the ruins that hold mysteries that perhaps leave us with more questions than answers. But the sites' power to amaze us is something that every architect will appreciate.

This small list—rather than an invitation— is a provocation for the senses that lie within the architect-traveler’s soul.

Architecture Guide to Montevideo: 15 Sites That Every Architect Should Visit

There are a number of reasons to visit the architecture of Montevideo: the coastal city is the result of a complex interaction of historical factors that provided multiple trends and architectural styles, currently coexisting at par. Its streets and buildings tell the story of its past.

The city´s architectural sites are easily found walking around Ciudad Vieja (Old Town) or in the renowned Rambla. Below is a list of 15 sites that every architect should know of and visit.