Letter From Abuja: The Fading Sheen of Nigeria’s Capital City

The city of Abuja, often touted as Africa’s fastest growing city, was conceived in 1976 in response to the growing chaos and inefficiency of Lagos, Nigeria’s old capital city. It was planned to be sublime in tempo and temper, yet nimble enough to meet all its administrative obligations to the Nigerian federation. Abuja, which goes by the slogan of “Centre of Unity,” was strategically sited in N...

Architecture in Africa as Science First and Art Second

The idea that architecture is increasingly becoming a catalyst for innovation and integral scientific change is evident and prevalent now more than any other time in the history of architecture. Here I propose a new way of looking at contemporary architecture in Africa, one that is driven purely by innovation and scientific breakthroughs rather than the existing pursuit of oversimplified totems...

Noomdo Orphanage / Kere Architecture

Situated in the rural countryside of the Boulkiemdé province of Burkina Faso, the Noomdo Orphanage lies approximately 2 kilometers outside of the city of Koudougou. Mimicking the nearby residential compounds, the project is layed out in a similar way to a small village clustered around a communal outdoor space. The complex consists of 5 modular courtyard buildings, a shaded open-air dining hall...

OKHA Digs into African Abstract Geometry for the Stone Rug Collection

OKHA has just released their exploration of abstract geometry in The Stone Rug Collection. Much like the emoji’s of iSpeak or the hieroglyphs of ancient Egypt, the South African Nguni (Xhosa, Zulu, Ndebele and Swazi) visual lineage uses graphic geometry to instantly communicate messages such as gender, social status, and uses colour to represent mood.

Eminence of Space: Cities as more feminine entities

Carlos Goni's book Lo Femenino (EUNSA, 2008) points out the difference between men and women when it comes to clothing. For men, clothes are meant to cover their nakedness. Their value is purely functional. For women however, clothes are an expression of their personality. What she chooses to wear on a particular day is a woman's way of saying who she is; her values, personality, and what she w...

Black Rhino Academy / NLE Works

The Black Rhino Academy is a proposed primary and secondary boarding school located in Karatu, Tanzania. The 7 hectare hilly site is situated just outside of the Ngorongoro Crater conservation area, surrounded by rich natural vegetation and abundant wildlife.

Why Mixed-Income Communities Are Essential for the Future of African Cities

The idea of planned mixed-class neighborhoods was first proposed by Ebenezer Howard in his 1898 book, To-morrow: A peaceful Path to Real Reform, which was later revised and reprinted four years later as Garden Cities of To-morrow. In the book, Howard offered practical solutions to the overcrowding and industrial pollution of growing Victorian cities. He wanted to build new, self-sufficient, ega...

Dicky Hokie Reimagines the Kenyan Shilling With Banknote Designs

Dicky Hokie has just shared with us his interpretation for what a contemporary Kenyan Shilling would like. In a quest to re-examine the portrait less currency envisioned in the new constitution of 2010, where the currency laws prohibit the glorification of one individual. these set of bank notes design explore a highly efficient and expressive set of design that delve deep into what he consider...

5 Kindergartens / colectivoMEL

We thought of this project watching the environment, the sun, and the marks of the rain, the wind and the children. In Guinea-Bissau our concepts are abstract. There the architecture is made up of two parts, inner space and outer space with transitional space codes.

Old Mutual Central Campus / Perry + Anderson Architecture

This project was to create a new business school for the Old Mutual Investment Group. Careful consideration of the existing campus of buildings at the head office of Old Mutual in Cape Town saw the positioning of the new training facility in an underutilized courtyard and existing ground floor office space. 

Aquiles Eco Hotel / Ramos Castellano Arquitectos

Located in the main square of a small fishermen village, Aquiles Eco Hotel aims to be integrated in the architecture and in the social structure of the surroundings. The architecture is simple, raw and flexible, and it talks with the other houses and the small buildings all around. The structure is composed by 13 wooden container sized rooms, set in a beton brut structure and painted with lime ...

Regional Lafarge Holcim Awards 2017 Middle East Africa Winners announced

The LafargeHolcim Awards is about more than just beautiful buildings and stands out as the world’s most significant competition in sustainable design. The competition acknowledges projects and not only finished work that go beyond current standards and deliver new, surprising, or truly visionary solutions to the way we build. The fifth cycle of the competition attracted 5,085 entries from autho...

UJ GSA Lecture Series: Bjarke Ingels Speaks in Johannesburg on Hedonistic Architecture and the Art of Giving Form

Bjarke Ingels spoke last week to over 750 enthusiastic architecture lovers in Maboneng, Johannesburg, continuing on the Lecture series run by the Graduate School Of Architecture at University of Johannesburg. Ingels, perhaps one of the most divergent critically acclaimed contemporary architects, sort to take the audience through a journey of his famous "process" of architecture, one now made kn...

The Why Not Academy / Gaetano Berni, Ivan Cosentino and Giulia Celentano

The Why Not Academy is a school but above all a multifusion center for the Mabatini community, one of the poorest neighborhoods in the Mathare slum in Nairobi. The school building project takes place in several phases. In the first phase of construction, wooden calls (twin pillars) were left in view of extending the school on a second floor. 

Swawou Girls School / Orkidstudio

In February 2014, Orkidstudio broke ground on a new girls’ school in Kenema, in the eastern region of the country, employing as many as seventy men and women from the local community each day. The Swawou Foundation sought to provide extensive new learning facilities for up to 120 young girls from the local area. First set up in 2009 by Ahmed Jaward and Kirsty Wood, it was the only school around...

Bridge House / Van Der Merwe Miszewski Architects

The site consists of three separate but adjacent sites forming one entity, located in the heart of Higgovale, which lies upslope from the Cape Town CBD and below Table Mountain. All three sites are traversed by a “DONGA” – a dry river course. The overall site, roughly triangular, is bounded by Glen Avenue to the South and East, public open space (a Pine forest) to the West and houses to the Nor...

A Studio - A Tree House / Phillip Lühl + Nina Maritz Architects

The idea for this tiny studio of about 35 usable square meters was born out of its spectacular setting. The incredibly dense garden is home to everything from porcupines to guinea fowl and slopes down steeply to the dry ravine beyond. The clients’ insistence that no single tree may be cut required an unconventional approach. The only buildable space available was a 3 x 3m storeroom between the ...

Eco Maison / Studio Tamassociati

TAM associati inaugurated the 'eco-maison', the first batch of the H2OS project, which envisages the construction of an eco-village in Senegal’s Keur Village, 200 km from Dakar in a scheme that consists of common spaces and autonomous housing modules from the point of view of Energy and water in an area where desertification proceeds inevitably. The project predominantly focuses on desertificat...

Building Madness: How the Boom and Bust Mentality Distorts Architecture

Architects are economically bipolar; for us it is either the best or the worst of times. And it’s not just architects. The entire construction industry is tuned to these extremes, but only architects are psychologically validated by booms and crushed by busts. All professions have a larger source of dependency—medicine needs insurance, law needs the justice system—but the construction industry ...

The Elusive Element of Regional Urban Resilience and Social Awareness in Cities

With urban sites being places where the large percentage of the population dwells to alter their economic situation, large cities have become home to high concentrations of poverty. The motivations and forms of concealing this reality have resulted in large inequalities manifest in conflict and other forms of social disability palpable in the region today. In the greater expansion, conflict can...

Heideveld Primary School / Meyer and Associates

The design of the new Heideveid Primary school was informed by the need to keep an existing school on the site fully operational until the new building was finished. This constraint, together with the relatively small scale of the site, gave rise to a compact and simple plan form.

House 02 Hyde Park / Daffonchio & Associates Architects

The house is set on a secluded, tranquil stand surrounded by established trees. The main house consists of 2 wings: the living wing and the bedroom wing. Both wings have long, low roofs which appear to float over and past them. These roofs are supported on external steel posts, as all of the walls stop short of the ceiling, with clerestory windows on top of all internal and external walls. The ...

Shelfie: Unpacking My Library - Architects and Their Books

Did Victor Hugo prophesy technology’s coming of age to the point where print technology would combine with the art of building to have 3d printed buildings? That aside, it is claimed that Architects do not read, how true this is, is shown by the number of them who are able write about their works and the profession. The common relationship between the architect and his books is the occasional r...

Other Desires: The African City

Discussions on African cities bear diverse voices. Architects, artists, theorists, filmmakers, novelists, historians, planners and other professionals that have an impact on the continent’s development of cities come together and share their voices in one or divergent commonalities. Having this multi-disciplinary approach, gives an appropriate  kaleidoscopic view of the situation in Africa espe...

Guelimì House / Ilaria Di Carlo

The 600 square metre Villa was commissioned by a contemporary art dealer in Algeria as her new home and a place to host her private collection and some small events related to the art gallery. Given the harsh condition of the sun during good part of the year and at the same time the need to control the light in terms of quantity and quality to exhibit and protect the art pieces, it was decided ...

Mohammed VI Polytechnic University / Ricardo Bofill Taller Architects

As a result of an international competition, the group OCP, a global leader in phosphates extraction and transformation, commissioned in 2011 the design of the campus for the Mohammed VI Polytechnic University to RBTA. Extending over approximately 55 hectares, the Campus for Mohammed VI Polytechnic University is the milestone of the ambitious scheme for the Mohammed VI Green City, a sustainable...

Villa Agava / Driss Kettani

Villa Agava is a contemporary house, Yes, but not in the conventional sense. It explores the tenets of traditional Moroccan space planning, manouvering the modern building codes and council requirements to achieve elements of privacy, solidarity in forma and the good old courtyard expereince. It is easy to see how Driss Kettani, in this instance apart from the dynamic duo of Amine Siana and Saa...

Sapiens Building / Costalopes

The Sapiens Building is located in a former industrial zone 500 metres from the Avenida Marginal and the Bay of Luanda. The plot contains two other buildings: in the north-east, the headquarters of the INSS, the 14 storey Angolan Social Security; and in the south-east, a 20 storey residential building named Kings Tower.

ArchDiaries: A Walk in the Mind of Frank Gehry

Often we have to step outside our comfort zone and experience the world over. The musings of Frank Gehry led Humphrey Mumita to take a deeper exploration of the ‘Foundation Louis Vuitton’ in Paris. Through Humphrey’s detailed account, Our new series ArchDiaries curated by Peninah Mutonga takes us for a walk in the mind of Frank Gehry;

Mazars' 54 Glenhove / Paragon Architects

The just completed office complex for Mazars in Johannesburg marks a paradigm shift from the idea of commercial architecture. While it seeks to convey the companies values and inbuilt traditions, it departs from a conventional office complex and borders into an abode. The toned down concrete, playful facades and expansive forms break apart the massing of the project and connect at the entrance ...