Buildings from earlier periods, the colonial period influence most modern architectures. From a mud mosque in Mali to cinemas in Angola, the modern Africa architects used their architectural designs to tell stories. Here are ten modern architecture which are iconic in Africa.
Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
The Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC), Nairobi is a 28-storey iconic building in the landscape of Nairobi. It was Commissioned by Jomo Kenyatta, the then president in 1967. The Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nøstvik designed it. when it was completed in 1973, It became the country’s first post-independence government building. The architecture comprises of a tower, a spectacular plenary, amphitheatre and a courtyard. It also has a revolving restaurant which offer views of Nairobi. Inspiration drawn from traditional African architecture can be seen in the idea of using terracotta facade. The Postcolonial east African countries and Nordic countries developing partnership brought about this building seeking to give development aid.
Independence Square, Accra, Ghana
It can also be called Black Star Square. The Black Star shipping line founded by Jamaican-born civil rights activist Marcus Garvey in 1919 influenced the black star of the square name. After Tiananmen Square in Beijing, China, the black star square is the second-largest square in the world. It was completed in 1961 and commissioned by president, Kwame Nkrumah who was the first Ghana president. There are several elements in the square such as the black star Monument, modernist structure and Independence Arch which sits parallel to the beach and the reminiscent of the Arc de Triomphe which is inscribed with “Freedom and Justice, AD 1957”. This inscription commemorates Ghana’s independence. This square has the capacity to seat more than 30,000 people. Huge events and military parades are hosted in the vast space within the square. Nkrumah’s Egyptian wife, Fathia Nkrumah handbag handle that she carried on special occasions, influenced the prominent arch of the square.
Basilica of our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast
The “Basilica in the Bush” stands in a country where less than a third of the population are Christians. This is however the largest church in the world. Just like most architecture, it is also another presidential project. It was commissioned by the first president of Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouët-Boigny, who was 83 at that time. The building stretches across an area of 30,000 sq metres and was paved with granite and marble.The marble used was imported from Italy. Even the 7,000 sq metres of hand-blown stained glass windows was imported from France. The church was completed in four years at a cost of over £190m. Height of 158 metres makes it the world’s tallest church. Houphouët-Boigny’s vision was to establish a modern city in the midst of the rainforest. Initially rejected by the Catholic church over its extravagance, Pope John Paul II requested that a hospital be built on the site in order for it to be accepted. Although Houphouët-Boigny accepted, however the hospital was never built.
The Gambia National Assembly, Gambia
In 2011, the Gambia renovated its National Assembly building and officially inaugurated in 2014. This project was expensive and cost roughly $25 million. It is indeed fitting that the parliament building is monumental because it is the nation’s sole legislative chamber. Its roof is cage-like sloping overhead a solid core that replicates a straw basket. Altogether, the complex has the capacity of housing 400 guests.
Dominican Chapel, Nigeria
The Dominican chapel in Ibadan is a mixture of sculptures and modernity with a Nigerian traditional style of architectur. Structure such as carved timber columns and elaborate metalwork on the gates. Artist Demas Nwoko, the architect, blend modernity and traditional style.
Lideta Mercato, Ethiopia
Lideta Mercato, the world best shopping complex is situated in Addis Ababa. Upon its completion in 2017, It was named the world best by UNESCO Prix Versailles architecture. Xavier Vilalta, the architect’s vision was to celebrate Ethiopian culture and aesthetics. The complex was inspired by the Old Mercato. It’s perforated outer wall reminisce the fractal patterns found in Ethiopian textiles.
In 2002, the end of Angola’s civil war marked the beginning of an oil boom. In the 20th century, this country witnessed a boom of a very different type. At least 50 cinemas were built in Angola in the early 1930s to the late 1970s. The Cinema Infante Sagres in the capital Luanda was the largest on the continent in 1975.
They are referred to as iine-esplanadas (open-air cinemas) and are colourful, modernist buildings. Cine-Atlantico and Cine-Teatro Nacional are the oldest cinema in Luanda. They herald a revival in cinema culture. After independence in 1975, the Cinema Restauração became Angola’s National Assembly building.
Zeitz MOCAA , South Africa
In contrast to many countries on this list, South African architecture is very established. In 2017, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa joined the ranks. Claiming the honor of being the world’s first major museum which was dedicated to contemporary African art , It is located on Cape Town’s Victoria & Alfred Waterfront.
National Theatre, Lagos Nigeria
The national theater in Lagos is Nigeria’s main performing arts center. Originally, it was constructed for the 1977 Festival of Arts and Culture. The design replicates a Nigerian military beret. The building which is roughly 100 feet at its tallest point, also mimics the architecture of the Palace of Culture and Sports which is in Varna, Bulgaria; as it was however built by a Bulgarian firm.
Maropeng Visitors’ Centre, South Africa
It is also known as the Cradle of Humankind. This World Heritage Site, Maropeng is a visitors’ centre established to assist people in learning about the early development of modern humans. South African firms GAPP Architects and MMA Studio spearheaded the iconic design of the structures.This building replicates a burial mound.