The Architectural Review 1441 : Africa
The Architectural Review / EMAP-UK
Drawings, plans, elevations
‘Africa’ has become a lazy substitute for any number of ideas from the political to the social, cultural, historical and economic. In this issue, we reject the stereotypes and, from refugee camps to Art Deco housing, starchitects to wooden skyscrapers, counter the notion of Africa as a place to be influenced. The habitual reduction of the continent’s complexity to a single image is skewered by the title of Jens Assur’s photographic series ‘Africa is a Great Country’ (here on the front cover). The Swedish photographer’s documentary stills reveal images not easily-marshalled into the familiar narrative and, instead, portray a more contradictory, messier reality – an ambition shared by the editorial line of the AR’s May issue. In the opening keynote, Lesley Lokko challenges the development-aid-charity paradigm that confines Africa, treating it as separate from the forces shaping architectural culture globally, while in the closing feature Tomá Berlanda looks at the challenge of reversing the social engineering engrained in the architecture and urban design of Apartheid towns. At the core of this issue is a new Notopia Edition, where Manuel Herz challenges established ideas of permanent and temporary in his study of the refugee camps in the Western Sahara, presenting them as newly found cities with the ability to question the notion of the nation state and the citizen. We look at projects from Djibouti to Joburg, including designworkshop:sa’s renovation of an Art Deco apartment block, an extension to a piecemeal 1950’s hospital in Vredenburg by Wolff Architects and Urko Sanchez’s SOS Children’s Village. All of the projects were visited by the writers, and in some instances new photography was especially commissioned. Typology asks whether the skyscraper is a logical extrusion of land values or an anti-urban monster, while Outrage bemoans the lack of coordinated policy required for housing reform in many burgeoning African cities, the diversity of which is explored by David Adjaye in a presentation of his personal research. Finally, in the wake of Francis Kéré’s winning design for the 2017 Serpentine pavilion, Andres Lepik looks back on the German-trained African architect’s works and the dialogue they have generated between the global North and South.