Cape Coast, Ghana – Mfantsipim School (1958) Fry, Drew and Partners
Copyright Manuel Herz
African Modernism – Architecture of Independence
Research and publication project
publication forthcoming in Febuary 2015
with an exhibition at Vitra Design Museum Gallery
supported by the ETH Zürich
During the late 1950s and the early 1960s most of the countries of Central and Subsaharan Africa gained their independence. Architecture became one of the principal means with which the young nations expressed their national identity. Parliament buildings, central banks, stadiums, conference centers, universities and independence memorials were constructed, often featuring heroic and daring designs. Modernistic, and often futuristic architecture mirrored the aspirations and forward looking spirit that was dominant at that time. A coinciding period of economical boom made elaborate construction methods possible while the tropical climate allowed for an architecture that blended the inside and outside, focused on form and the expression of materiality without the need for insulation or heating. The architecture in the capital cities of countries such as Kenya, Ivory Coast, Zambia, Ghana or Senegal still represents some of the best examples of 60s and 70s architecture. Nevertheless it has received little attention and still remains to be ‘rediscovered’. The research project aims at documenting this architectural oeuvre for the first time in an extensive and exhaustive scope. Publication and exhibition forthcoming in 2014.