Home Forums Architectural Designs and Structures From Africa Africa’s Most Surreal Architectural Structures.

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    Grace Amos

      The architecture of Africa is incredibly diverse, just like other facets of its civilization. Africans have created their very distinct regional architectural traditions over the course of the continent’s history. Sometimes, more general regional fashions can be recognized, as in the case of West African Sudano-Sahelian architecture.


      The use of fractal scaling is a recurrent element in traditional African architecture: minor parts of the structure frequently resemble bigger parts, like in the case of a circular community made up of round dwellings. For millennia, other cultures have had an impact on some parts of African architecture.


      However, the materials used in African architecture are diverse and include thatch, stick/wood, mud, mudbricks, rammed earth, and stone. Region-specific material preferences include those for stone and rammed earth in North Africa, stone and mortar in the Horn of Africa, mud/adobe in West Africa, thatch/wood and more perishable materials in Central Africa, and stone and thatch/wood in Southeast and Southern Africa.


      We will look at five astounding architectural structures in Africa. We have;


      Mapungubwe Interpretation Center, South Africa

      Mapungubwe is located on South Africa’s northern border with Botswana and Zimbabwe. It is also home to an immensely rich flora and fauna including over 1000 years old Baobab trees and a big variety of animal life, including elephants, giraffes, white rhinos, antelopes, and 400 bird species. It is in the surreal location of a 1,500 sqm visitor’s center which includes spaces to tell the stories of the place and house artifacts, along with tourist facilities and SANParks offices.

      The surrealistic structure designed by Peter Rich is a collection of stone-cladding vaults balancing on the sloped site, against the backdrop of Sandstone formations and mopane woodlands. The Mapungubwe Interpretation Center was achieved using the latest developments in structural geometry and a technique borrowed from the North African culture: the vaulting technique.



      Hikma Complex, Niger

      One of Africa’s most significant architectural landmarks is the Hikma Complex in Niger. It was created by Yasaman Esmaili and Miriam Kamara of Studio Chahar. The Hausa mosque was rebuilt after it had fallen into ruin. It now serves as a community center and library and is renowned throughout the world for its stunning architecture.



      Lideta Market, Ethiopia

      Ethiopia’s Lideta Market is the pinnacle of contemporary African design. In the capital of Ethiopia, Addis Ababa, Vilalta Studio constructed the shopping center using lightweight concrete. The designer did a great job of rejecting the stereotype of a mall with large retailers and incorporating the traditional market idea. One of the first of its kind in Africa, the design has a perforated façade that regulates the flow of natural light and ventilation. The cut-out pattern and brilliant white shell also resemble a traditional Ethiopian fabric.




      Dominican Chapel, Nigeria 

      Dominican Chapel is a well-known monument in Ibadan. The tower can be seen rising from Oyo Road thanks to its location on a hill with a small inclination and its surrounding greenery. The chapel was designed by one of the most known architects of Nigeria, Demas Nwoko, a place where African tradition can be reflected with a fresh and contemporary style of architecture. Being also an artist besides from architect, he infused the theatrical and expressive relationship the worship between clergy and congregation. To create this masterpiece, he incorporated modern design and sculptural elements with a traditional Nigerian architectural style.




      Bibliotheca Alexandrina (Alexandria, Egypt)

      This structure serves as both a library and a cultural hub in Alexandria, Egypt. 8 million books can be stored on the library’s shelves. On 11 cascading floors, the primary reading area is 70,000 square meters in size. It is slanted outward toward the water like a sundial and is supported by a 32-meter-high glass paneled roof.

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