Home of some of the richest architectural history in the world, West Africa has captured worldwide attention in recent years for the ingenuity and creativity of a number of its architects. Said architects contribute to a long legacy of architectural tradition which has influences ranging from neighboring cultures to the Islamic and Christian worlds. In addition, they have the added benefit of having access to the bountiful natural resources in the region.
Contemporary West African architects seek to utilize their cultural background and modern trends in order to create unique works that encapsulate many aspects of life. David Adjaye’s globally recognized, masterful creations pertain to and embody the energy of civic life. On the other hand, Diébédo Francis Kéré utilizes traditional building practices best suited for the particular community he works in.
Here is the Folklore’s list of some of the biggest game-changers in the world of contemporary West African architecture
Born to Ghanian parents, sir David Adjaye has garnered worldwide attention for his use of African art forms and structures as well as a keen understanding of urban life. His most well-known project to date was the Smithsonian Institute National Museum of African American History and Culture, which was praised for its bold and unconventional beauty. Adjaye has enjoyed the distinction of being knighted in the U.K., as well as being honored as one of TIME Magazine’s 100 most influential people of the year in 2017.
Senegalese architect and designer Mamy Tall, has helped to put Senegalese artistic merit on a global map. She joins the large movement of African millennials who seek to fuse traditional practices with a futuristic aesthetic. Tall has worked on a number of exciting projects including the UN headquarters in Diamniadio and the Miniserial Spheres in Dakar. She is also the co-founder of LIVES, which is a series of several social media pages exhibiting the beauty of different African cities.
Baba Oladeji works to fuse politics with architectural design. The Nigerian architect founded Design Party, an alternative political agency with a focus or architecture, which boasts projects like Fela Memorial Force HQ and Stomach Infrastructure Bank. Oladeji has sought to use his practice to rethink post-colonial African cities in such a way that pays homage to their design heritage and aesthetic.
In 2010, Adeyemi founded NLE, an award-winning architecture and urban design firm. His work seeks to remedy poor living conditions that are the result of rapidly growing cities. To date, his most notable project is the Markoko Floating School located in a lagoon community in Lagos Nigeria.
Olajumoke Adenowo has been dubbed “the face of architecture” in Nigeria. She founded the architecture firm AD consulting in 1994 and has completed a number of projects for high profile clients like Coca Cola and L’Oreal. Her work takes a holistic approach to architecture and emphasizes the role of the interior makeup in her design process.
Diébédo Francis Kéré
Originating from Burkina Faso, Diébédo Francis Kéré is known for his sustainability-conscious, community-focused work. Throughout his career, Kéré has sought to apply the architectural principals he garnered from his European education, while also utilizing the traditional building practices of the communities he works in. This methodology has resulted in some innovative projects, such as the primary school in his native village of Gando where he primarily used mud bricks.
Founder of Design233, Ghanian designer and architect Korantemaa Larbi has sought to intersect culture with architecture. Design233 is a platform meant to showcase Ghanian art, design, and architecture in order to bring attention to underrepresented traditions and to showcase work that considers the unique culture and climate of Ghana.
Words by Natalie Jarret