Developing an Authentic African Architecture

C PROFANYAMBATOMTEBESI. "Developing an Authentic African Architecture." Africa Habitat Review . 2011;5.


The idea of the existence of an African Architecture has been problematic over the years since the onset of European occupation. Early scholars of non-Western built forms saw them as not constituting architecture but as shelter or mere dwellings (Oliver, 1987). Others classed these built forms as primitive or indigenous architecture (Guidoni, 1987 Gardi, 1973)while others have classed built forms on the African continent as African Architecture (Kultermann, 1969).Globally, most indigenous societies build their structures using local resources and quite often adapted to the climate of the locality. In addition, traditional built forms tend to respect historical precedents and local customary practices. In this regard, it can be argued that traditional architecture is green architecture without the benefits of sophisticated technologies. The above notwithstanding, most Western architecture imported to the continent, had little regard for local practices and quite often ignored local climate. In attempting to train architects for contemporary practice, this paper argues for hybrid architecture. This is because there is no current pure African architecture in existence. What happened over time was the Africanisation of Western and Eastern architectural models to suit the African condition. The resultant architecture has been a hybrid of these various architectures, what Mazrui refers to as the Triple African Heritage. This architecture is a spatial counter form for the contemporary African society and can be seen to be authentic

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