African architecture is as varied as the cultures of Africa. For instance, the architectural marvels of the Egyptian pyramids are not in the West of Africa. Instead, the westerners have historic tombs that were carved from stones. This diversity has indeed transitioned to the modern age where megastructures are coming up in major capital cities. Many of these buildings have gained fame because of their unique designs. So, what are the most famous buildings in Africa?
1. Lideta Market, Ethiopia
Lideta Market in Ethiopia is the epitome of modern African architecture. The shopping centre was built by Vilalta Studio in Ethiopia's capital, Addis Ababa, using lightweight concrete. The designer has done an amazing job of breaking away from the conventional idea of a mall with big stores and bringing in the old traditional concept of the market. The design consists of a perforated façade that controls the flow of natural light and ventilation, one of the first in Africa. On top of this, the cut out-pattern and gleaming white shell mimics a traditional Ethiopian fabric.
2. Hikma Complex, Niger
The Hikma Complex in Niger is one of the greatest architectural heritages in Africa. It was designed by Miriam Kamara and Yasaman Esmaili of Studio Chahar. The complex restored the Hausa mosque that had fallen in despair. Today, it is a community space and library, famous globally for its remarkable design.
3. Kenneth D!ke Library, Nigeria
The Kenneth D!ke Library is in Ibadan, Nigeria. The building was designed to keep the inside cool during warm days because of the important literature, including Arabic manuscripts. The magnificent library was constructed in 1948 as part of the University of Ibadan and was named after professor Kenneth, the first indigenous Principle and former Vice-Chancellor. While the building's design is recognized the world over, what is inside makes the library a gem of Nigeria. It has around 2 million books, journals, and other academic resources. It was designed by Maxwell Fry and Jane Drew, pioneers of the Modern Movement in England.
4. Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre, South Africa
Mapungubwe Interpretation Centre is an iconic building in South Africa within Mapungubwe National Park. The centre's design is so impressive that it won the South African World Building of the Year Award in 2009 at the World Architecture Festival. South African architect Peter Rich designed it.
The most exciting thing about the building is that it was built from a technique borrowed from North African culture. It is constructed from the vaulting technique. The builders created mud bricks using soil from the construction site and only 5% additional cement.
5. Great Mosque, Benin
The Great Mosque in Porto-Norvo, Benin, is a remarkable architectural masterpiece. The mosque's construction started in 1912 and was completed in 1925. Today, the building is a recognized historical monument, attracting visitors from all over the world. The funny thing about the building is that it resembles a chapel even though it is a mosque. The front façade is decorated with vegetable and scrolled stucco moulding.
6. Great Mosque of Djenné, Mali
The Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali is the largest earth-built structure, making it an important tourist destination for the country. The building is nearly 20m high and on a 91m-long platform.
The mosques walls are reconstructed with mud every April in a one-day event called the Crépissage (Plastering). They do this because the structure requires reinforcement before the rainy season.
7. Palace of Emperor Fasilides, Ethiopia
The Palace of Emperor Fasilides is one of the oldest buildings in Africa. It was built in the 17th century. It is in the country's northern city of Gondar in a fortified compound referred to as the Fasil Ghebbi (Royal Enclosure). The building's amazing design showcases diverse influences, including Nubian, Hindu, Arab, and Baroque characteristics.
The Palace of Emperor Fasilides is inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its historical relevance. The site housing the building includes other 20 palaces, royal buildings, monasteries, churches, and other unique buildings.
8. Dominican Chapel, Nigeria
The Dominican Chapel was designed by artist Demas Nwoko, one of the most famous architects of Nigeria. He blended sculptural elements and modernity with a Nigerian vernacular style of architecture to produce this masterpiece. The chapel is on a hill with a slight incline and surrounded by green lawns.
9. Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, Ivory Coast.
Churches are known to have some of the most remarkable designs worldwide, and the Basilica of Our Lady of Peace, Yamoussoukro, is a great example. The church, which stands in a nation where less than a third of its population are Christians, is the largest in the world. It is a presidential project commissioned by the first president of Ivory Coast, Felix Houphouët-Boigny. The country imported marble from Italy, among many other materials. It was built at the cost of over £190m. Even though it is the biggest church in the world, it was rejected by the Catholic church because of its extravagant nature. Pope John Paul II requested that a hospital be built on the site.
10. Apartheid Museum, Johannesburg, South Africa
The Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, South Africa, is one of Africas famous places. The museum tells the story of apartheid in the country, one of the most sensitive topics in modern civilization.
The museum's design came from an architectural consortium comprising leading architectural firms in South Africa. The building's well-thought design ensures sufficient natural light that lights it for the numerous visitors who visit the museum daily.
11. Independence Arc, Accra, Ghana
Independence Arc in Ghana is a masterpiece of West African architecture. The building has immense significance in Ghana.
12. ISKCON Gaborone, Botswana
The ISKCON in Gaborone is a 6,500-square-foot, three-storey temple. All the floors have intricate designs and beauty. On the first floor are the living quarters for priests and visiting devotees. The temple also possesses a 3000-square foot hall used for dining with a fully equipped kitchen.
13. Reunification Monument, Cameroon
The Cameroon Reunification Monument was built in Yaounde's capital to represent unification. It has an amazing design representing modern African architecture. The monument was constructed in the 1970s. Its architects are Gedeon Mpondo and Engelbert Mveng.
14. Notre Dame of Bangui, Central African Republic
The Notre Dame of Bangui is a Cathedral under the Roman Catholic Church. The church is famous worldwide because of its impressive design and considering it is built with red brick. In addition, the building's architecture is reminiscent of numerous structures located in former French colonies with tropical climates.
15. The Kenyatta International Convention Centre, Nairobi, Kenya
At the heart of Nairobi's capital sits the Kenyatta International Convention Centre, named after the first president of Kenya, Jomo Kenyatta. The same President commissioned the building in 1967, designed by Norwegian architect Karl Henrik Nostvik. The Kenyatta International Convention Centre is one of the well-designed buildings in Nairobi. Most of the famous buildings in Africa have a rich history and were designed by architects with impressive portfolios renowned worldwide. The diversity of these buildings shows the difference in African cultures and that every region will always be unique.