ArchiAfrika contributes to the knowledge on African architecture

January 2007 -

The ArchiAfrika foundation was established with the aim to put African architecture on the world map. Strange as it may seem, African architecture has not profited from the increasing global attention for other African arts such as music, literature, painting, sculpture and dance. This lack of attention cannot be explained by poor performance; African architectural history is rich in depth and variety and deserves to be better known worldwide.


Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam

African architecture is mostly associated with vernacular architecture. Because of the great impact colonists have had on urban Africa (most of the cities did not even exist before colonization), the veritable African identity is expected to be found in the villages, untouched by western influences, or in the architectural wonders created by the African ancestors: the mysterious mosques in Djenne, Mali, the rock churches in Lalibela, Ethiopia and of course the pyramids in Egypt.

However, there is much more to be discovered. African architecture definitely did not die when western influences touched the African architects and builders. On the contrary, African architecture continued to develop and came to produce its own contemporary style.

The Kariakoo market in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, is such an example. Built in 1974 by the architect B.J. Amuli, the building offers three layers of market area and forms the centre of the Kariakoo market which is spread out in the neighborhood. The building is perfectly adapted to its function, but also to its environment. It provides for the necessary air circulation and the roof exists of a series of gigantic funnels to harvest the rain, to be stored in underground collection tanks.

There are many more beautiful examples like the Kariakoo market and presumably even more to come. African architecture forms its own important part in the world's architectural history, which should not be overlooked.

ArchiAfrika was founded in 2001 by five Dutch architects who lived and worked in Africa for years. By organizing events with partners in Africa - like the workshop and conference on Modern Architecture in East Africa around Independence in Dar es Salaam in 2005 - and a website, developing into a digital documentation centre, it works on the appreciation of African architecture, both on the African continent itself and in the rest of the world. Projects currently carried out are a documentary on Modern Architecture in Tanzania, a series of workshops with African immigrants in Amsterdam and support to the Working Party of the 'African Architecture Today' conference in Kumasi, Ghana in 2007.