Architecture: The buildings of Africa

Architecture: The buildings of Africa

Just like its countries and cultures, the African continent has diverse and colourful architecture.  The continent has a history of building structures from mud, stone, sticks, straw and although some countries were later influenced by the western world, they have managed to preserve many of their traditional buildings.


Stone Town is an ‘old city’ in Zanzibar, which is famous for being East Africa’s architectural hub.  The buildings were constructed with stone, hence the name Stone Town. The architecture was inspired by Arabs, Asians and Europeans over many centuries.  The main feature of the buildings are the grand, colourful, hand-carved wooden doors.  Another architectural feature on the walls and streets are the benches that run along the sides, which were used as meeting spots or pavement walks.

Mosque in Stone Town


During the 19th century, many closed and open air cinemas/theatres were built around Angola.  These were very popular architectural sites, due to their unique art-deco designs.  These days, particularly in Luanda, modern Angolan architecture has been highly influenced by the western world. The city is filled with skyscraper offices, banks and industrial buildings, mostly built by Chinese organisations.


Angola city


It feels like back in the medieval times, when walking around the Medina (old city) in Marrakech. The city has kept its old features from the Berber empire, such as the high, plain walls constructed from red sandstone, giving it the nickname; ‘red city’. The traditional houses in Morocco are called ‘Riads’ (garden in Arabic), where the exterior part of a house, like the garden or courtyard is built-in the centre of Riad, making it an internal focal point. As you walk through the street alleys, there are beautifully decorated doors, which are entrances to the Riads.


Gaoui village in Chad is well-known for its traditional architecture and pottery.  The hut like houses are built high out of earth and straw and decorated in colourful patterns.  The village is a few miles away from the capital N’Djamena and is definitely a place to visit for enthusiastic architects and photographers.


Sierra Leone
Nowadays, this image portrays a typical construction site in Sierra Leone, where houses and hotels are built using cement, supported by wooden sticks and ropes used as scaffolding.  A century ago, houses and shops were made out of wood and metal materials, which are referred to as ‘bode ose’ and ‘pan body’ respectively.  There are still able many of these olden day buildings in Freetown, which were influenced by the Americans and West Indians.

Building in SL

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