Africa is an exceptionally diverse continent and like all other aspects of its cultural endowment, the architecture of Africa is also exceptionally diverse. From the origin and background of Africa, Africans have made so many successful attempts to develop their own architectural traditions. Witnessing these unique local architectural traditions, one can notice the common theme in its creation which is the use of a fractal scaling. In this type, you can see how small parts of the structure tend to look similar to larger parts.
African architecture uses a vast range of materials which are preferentially chosen according to its region.
The North Africa prefers its materials to be stone and rammed earth. West Africa prefers its materials to be mud/Adobe. Central Africa prefers its materials to be thatch/wood and more perishable materials.
The Southeast and Southern Africa prefers stone and thatch/wood. The African architecture displays the inter-connectivity of environmental factors such as natural resources, climate and vegetation.
Due to the fact that stone is the most durable of building materials, some certain types of ancient stone structures have survived while some other materials have yielded to rain, rot or termites.
In South Africa and Botswana stone walled Kraals settlements from early Sotho and Tswana have been the subject of archeological study. In the early 20th century Among the southern Sotho, records were made of certain types of unique materials like stone-corbeled shelters and round shaped huts with thatched roofs.
The enormous majority of Africa’s thousands of people reside in rural areas that occupied with building made from grass, wood and clay.
There are a lot of architectural accomplishments in the world like the:
“Burj Khalifa” located in Dubai, UAE, the “Beijing National Stadium” located in Beijing China, the Eiffel Tower located in Paris, France, the Taj Mahal located in India and so many other great and wonderful architectural accomplishments.
But the African continent is not lagging in this regard, it also boasts of jaw dropping architectural accomplishments. This article would bring into limelight some of the most significant and historical accomplishments in Africa.
Bete Giyorgis is located in Lalibela in Ethiopia. The town was named after a man born into the Zegwe dynasty whose name was Saint Gebre Mesqel Lalibela. This man grew up to become the Ethiopian king.
He is known as the king who ordered the construction of 11 monolithic stone churches currently existing in the town today.
Lalibela is a town in the nothern part of Ethiopia known around the globe for its monolithic rock-cut churches carved from living rock. This rock-cut churches play an important role in rock-cut architecture.
The Lalibela town is one of Ethiopia’s holiest cities after Aksum and it is regarded as a center for pilgrimage. The church of St. George popularly known as Bete Giyorgis is one of the eleven monolithic churches in Lalibela.
Back in the 12th century it was carved from solid red volcanic rock. It is referred to as the 8th wonder of the world. King Lalibela’s goal was to create a brand new Ethiopian Jerusalem, recreating so many Bible scenes such as the stable out of carved rock.
It was carved out of the ground and shaped from the inside out thereby regarded as an “unbroken piece of stone”. The Bete Giyorgis is connected to other sunken stone church through many complex tunnels.
Pyramids of Giza
Located in Al-Jizah of Egypt, the pyramids of Giza are the three 4th dynasty pyramids constructed on the rocky upland of the West Bank of the Nile River. These pyramids were built by three rulers/kings namely Khufu, Khafre and Menkaure.
The oldest pyramid to the north was built for Khufu who was the second king of the 4th dynasty. This pyramid is the largest of the the three pyramids and as so is referred to as the “Great Pyramid”.
Roughly 2.4 million blocks of stones were cut, conveyed and collected to create the 5.8 million ton structure which is vastly seen as a masterpiece. The pyramids are old and classified as one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient world. These amazingly huge monuments were unsurpassed in height for thousands of years after their construction, and were regarded to be seemingly perfect.
In all likelihood the most prominent class of structure in the African Continent which is the pyramids of Egypt persists as one of the greatest early architectural achievements in the world.
Corinthia Hotel Khartoum
This architectural beauty is a five star hotel located in central Khartoum which is the capital of Sudan. It is centered at the convergence of the Blue Nile and White Nile rivers in the center of the city’s commercial, administrative and business areas. The graceful architectural masterpiece of steel and glass was unfurled on the 17th of August 2008.
It comprises of 18 guest floors, 173 rooms and 57 suites which all offers an extensive view of the city and the Nile. The building is ovally shaped in a curve originally designed to resemble a ship’s sail.
Walls of Great Zimbabwe
Popularly known as “Great Zimbabwe” an ancient town located in the southeastern hills near Masvingo, it was the capital of the kingdom of Zimbabwe during the Late Iron Age of the country.
It served as a royal palace and the seat of political authority for the Zimbabwean monarch. The most prominent, enduring and impressive features of Great Zimbabwe are its stone walls.
Some of these stone walls are over 36 feet high almost extending over long serpentine courses.
This spectacular and impressive structures with finely finished surfaces were established by placing granite stones on top one another without mortar. The constructions of these walls began in the 11th century and continued till the 14th century by the ancestors of the Shona people.
The wall spanned an area of 722 hectares which could have housed over 18,000 people. Foreigners stunned by this architectural prowess attributed the workmanship to foreign powers. Eventually such attributions were dismissed when archeological investigations confirmed the ancientness of the site and its African origins.
The Reunification monument located in Yaoundé Cameroon was designed by Cameroonian sculptor Gédéon Mpando. It was constructed to be the most perceptible symbol of the unification of the two Cameroon’s. The twin spirals stands for the joining together of the francophone and Anglophone terrains of the nation.
It was deliberately built in the capital city Yaoundé to be one of Cameroon’s major tourist attractions just as the Eiffel Tower is in France. There are so many Architectural accomplishments in Africa that are of significant impact. Each were constructed to symbolize the uniqueness of their origin and culture.
Till today these architectural works have become sites of interests in academics, history talks and discussions.