You can probably clearly picture the architecture of Europe, Asia, the Middle East and India – but can you say the same for Africa? For thousands of years, Africa helped shape our modern world and yet, so much of it is underrepresented. We spent the day getting to know its architecture better, discovering just how infinitely diverse it is….
Ndebele villages of South Africa
Ndebele, the name literally translates to ‘the place where the sun rises’, in Mpumalanga province of South Africa, is home to several Ndebele villages, where the people are linguistically related to the KwaZulu Natal’s Zulu tribe and the Ndebele people of Zimbabwe. Learn more about the Ndebele people here.
Musgum mud huts of Cameroon
Mosquée de la DivInité, Senegal
Dogon Arhitecture in Mali
Nubians are “an ethno-linguistic group of people who are indigenous to the region which is now present-day Northern Sudan and southern Egypt. They originate from the early Sub Saharan African inhabitants of the central Nile valley, believed to be one of the earliest cradles of civilization”.
There are 200-255 pyramids in Sudan. That is more than Egypt, which has about 138.
Discover more about this location (it’s a hotel on the Nile).
Discover this Nubian Nirvana on the Nile.
Historic Kano City, Northern Nigeria
Founded by Kano, a blacksmith of the Gaya tribe who in ancient times came to Dalla Hill in the locality in search of iron.
Straw Mosque in Diourbel, Senegal
Designed by a Senegalese mystic named Serigne Omar Sy (b. 1913). More info.
Dinka Architecture, Sudan
More information on the Dinka people.
“The Nest” Namib Tsaris Conservancy, Namibia
By South African designer Porky Hefer, more here.
The Kilindi Zanzibar, a hotel.
These Ethiopian Churches
Dozens of Ancient Churches are carved into cliffs in Tigray, Ethiopia…
Abuna Yemata Guh is a monolithic church located 2,580 metres above ground and has to be climbed on foot to reach. It is notable for its dome and wall paintings dating back to the 5th century and its architecture and one of the “35-odd rock-hewn churches, the largest concentration anywhere in Ethiopia.
The paintings date back to initial traces of Christianity in Ethiopia and are themed around the nine saints and twelve apostles.
More found on Wikipedia.
St. Georges Church, carved downwards from a type of volcanic tuff, which is the sole architectural material that was used in the structure. It has been dated to the late 12th or early 13th century AD and referred to as the “Eighth Wonder of the World”.
There are a staggering eleven differeent rock-hewn monolithic churches in Lalibela, a city in the Amhara Region of Ethiopia.
Brutalism & Modernism in Cameroon
The Underground Homes of Matmata, Tunisia
Hotel Sidi Driss, where Star Wars was famously filmed, is a traditional Berber house, built centuries ago. It served as the set for Lars homestead on Tatooine, the exterior being filmed 300 kilometers west, on Chott el Jerid. After the filming of the first movie, A New Hope, the decorations were taken down, only to be completely rebuilt in 2000 for the filming of Attack of the Clones. The hotel is open all year and the decorations are still intact. There are five pits in the hotel, four of them with rooms; the fifth one, the Star Wars pit, is the hotel’s restaurant. Although it is not allowed to sleep in the sets, it is possible to dine in the same room as in the film.
The Berbers of Tunisia have been digging out homes in the ground this way for more than a thousand years. A lot of communities around the world, particularly those in hot climates, traditionally live in caves to escape the heat.
The palace of Ngaoundere sultanat, Cameroon
Photographed by Bernard l Hermite
Ahmadu Bello University Theatre, Nigeria
Mozabite Architecture, Ghardaïa, Algeria
Gurunsi Villages of Burkina Faso
More about this village here.
The Obelisk of Axum, Ethiopia
A 4th-century CE, 24-metre-tall phonolite, weighing 160 tonnes.
I’ll now leave you with this great documentary, presented by the award winning architect David Adjaye, the first black architect to establish a truly global reputation in his field, who explores African architecture on an architectural history tour of the continent. He also published a multi-volume book, Adjaye. Africa. Architecture, a complete overview of architecture in 54 African cities.