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178  modern rectangular one-family homes aligned along urban streets and alleys. This modernization process took place and takes place up to today almost unnoticed, but has been of an impact on African architecture and the African city that is at least as important as the formal Eurocentric modernist development of African architecture and the African city. What makes this modernization even more important is the efficiency and standardization of the building production process that resulted in a nearcontinent wide homogeneous building market. The gi-roof sheets have the same size and gauge all over Africa, and so do the cement blocks. Construction timber elements, doors, windows, steel gates and grills, even precast decorative elements such as banisters, ventilation screen blocks, complete Ionic or Corinthian columns and pilasters, all these are standardized and produced in small and specialised workshops along the roadside, from Tanzania to Senegal and from Ethiopia to Angola. Initially, the African town houses were simple and straightforward, meant as temporary shelter. After all, the move to the city was thought to be temporary, intended to make money for a comfortable old day to be spent on better pastures, back in the village. Many Africans built their retirement home, more often than not large family mansions, in the home village or the suburb. These mansions, that are mushrooming over the continent, have little in common with the traditional vernacular. Yet, the African does eventually become an urbanite as well, and commences to see the urban life not as temporary anymore. This shift from a rural to an urban future for enjoyment and retirement enhances private investments leading to densification and a new town culture, in which the small town houses are converted into mixed-use multiple story buildings, eventually creating a modern vertical city, which aspires to become the African metropolis. In this process, the work of the Congolese artist Kingelez assumes a central position of inspiration. Kingelez produced models of the African metropolis, the ‘Ville Fantôme’, the city that not yet is but will be, in a formal expression that appeals to the aspirations to African modernity. Most of the above processes on the modernization of the town house, the suburban villa and the multi-storied town building evade formal regulation, education or structure. There is Precast column workshop on Zanzibar, 2015   (Antoni Folkers). An ‘informal’ African suburb: Ng’ambo around 1900,   Zanzibar (courtesy Zanzibar National Archives). Ng’ambo neighborhood in 2013, Zanzibar   (Berend van der Lans). Idumuje House, Nigeria, by Demas Nwoko, ca 2005   (courtesy of Godwin-Hopwood)


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