|A traditional house in Uganda|
I certainely travelled through Africa in the right direction. I started in Egypt which began with the architecture of early civilisation and ended in South Africa which seems as systematically developed as Europe. The journey made sense as I stumbled or cycled from madness to order. The Islamic culture drove the importance of the mosques and markets while South Africa comprised supermarkets and offices.
All capital cities throughout Africa were a representation of development and industrialisation. If a country had been colonized the city displayed a vast number of architectural styles. Buildings of high status with the classical concrete columns built in the post colonial periods were plentiful.
Italy reigned Ethiopia for 5 years but besides that it was one of the only countries in East Africa that had not been colonized, because of this the infrastructure was poor. Further down past the Ethiopian border the colonial structures stand beside more modern Corbusier style minimalist concrete blocks furthermore steel and glass offices built in more recent years copying the modernism of the Western world. Times were changing; in the city centres Africa is developing.
Weaved grass facade
|A restaurant using heather for the facade|
|A weaved rondavel hut with quiver tree chair stumps|
Below the Ethiopian border heading more central East Africa there were small changes in the traditional style housing and building techniques. The vernacular Rondavel huts were very common, constructed by the people of the village from locally sourced sustainable materials. These dome-like round houses are made from cedar poles, linked with bamboo and reeds for walling. The roof is thatched with grass or banana leaves. There has been very simple adaptation with time, people use their initiative and work with nature. During the colonial period clay walling became common but more recently, these have been replaced with adobe or sun-dried brick walling. Brick is seen as development as it is a more durable material. There were of course many alterations depending on the materials available.
The entrance to a Church in the highlands near Gondar
Traditional housing is a mixture of oval and square plan structures in Rwanda. The houses were again built with any materials pliable. Locally sourced wood is a very popular building material. The european style building is readily visible because of aluminium being used on the roofs. This material is cheaper and quicker option but the people of the village noticed it was not good for natural ventilation, the iron absorbed the heat which was uncomfortable for the dwellers. The thatch (chopped weaved grass from the side of the road) would be used if people had the time and skill. The cost and time to build a thatch roof was higher not to mention the regular maintenance work which is why the corrugated iron sheet became so popular and is now widely used.
|The Pyramids of Giza|
The European exploration of Africa began with the Greeks and Romans in 332BC. The domination started across certain regions of Africa and continues still to this day. As more people and more influences mixed the structures and designs, the architecture became as rich as the vast savannah's and nature.
Some buildings didn't last due to the inaccurate uses and materials in which they were constructed. Others have and will be maintained to last through the test of time because people built them themselves.
In the late 19th century, after the slave trade, the European imperial powers engaged in a major territorial scramble. The European colonisation period left very obvious architecture styles in certain regions. The architectural designs in Cairo were matched with the beauty and modernity of Paris. There are public squares, roundabouts and buildings with elaborate steel decoration on the balconies.
|Architectural detail in Cairo|
• One welcoming grand entrance; the bright colours elaborate the door, the door is painted using the natural colours found in the desert
• Decorated features based on a temple; the dome represents Christian morals of the father, son and the holy spirit
• Coloured rendered walls; they decorate their walls white or use the natural colours found in the desert
• Concrete foundations; made using massive stones from the desert filled with sand then a small amount of concrete mix. The design is therefore the same strength using as little concrete as possible to keep the cost down.
|A traditional Nubian house|
The standard Sudanese housing built were often one storey earth and mud walls that seemed to disappear into the sand dunes of the desert. The houses had flat roofs as this country hardly ever experienced rain. There were some more Arabic style developed two storey settlements. These houses were designed to not obstruct anyones privacy. Due to the strict islamic laws the privacy of a house is very important to a person.
Another style of architecture was the housing of the nomads. The oval shaped domes in the deserts were easily built each night by nomads who transported their camels to Egypt to be sold for better trade. I also spotted some very original architecture which I had never seen before. There were some three storey high mounds of mud protruding inwards shaped like a pyramid. I found out these were not only built as bat habitats but were very important tombs built as a grave for the chief of the village.
|Cascading mud tomb|
Christianity spread across Europe to Ethiopia and there are many early Churches with some tremendous wood carving decoration.
|Christian church in the highlands near Gondar, Ethiopia|
I visited a Castle in Gondar which was built in the 16th Century by the portuguese. The colossal medieval style doors and hallways were built with local stone and gigantic timber rafts.
|Fasilides Castle Ethiopia|
Wood was a very popular construction material in areas of high density forest. People made the whole village using wood. Cattle pens, perimeter walls, raised food storage and chicken sheds.
There was an obvious change of building style and materials in Rwanda. Clay tiles were built locally and used on Roofs (if not they used thatch layers of an earth clay mix).
|A shack built with fabric and materials|
|Clay House Project Namibia|
|Standard Clay House|
I spotted a very interesting reuse of a structure in South Africa. People had turned past marine equipment into a dwelling.
|Construction offices in South Africa|
A sustainable design included;
|Minimalistic style shops made out of local materials|