Page 179

AfrikaUK

came to stage and some Africanized architects of European descent joined their search into a renewed modernist architecture for Africa. However, the works of this first generation of African originated architects was still firmly embedded in the European modernist narrative, as told by Udo Kulterman and a few others.10 After the Portuguese born architect Pancho Guedes, active in Mozambique and South Africa from the 1950s to the 1980s, it is the Nigerian autodidact Demas Nwoko who took a fresh position in designing and writing resurfaced academic African modern architecture into being. Nwoko states that the nature of technology is such that it is not the preserve of any race or time, and, according to Giles Omezi, “(…) Demas Nwoko sought to resolve in his architecture, a crisis at the heart of contemporary Africa; the nature of its modernity. He seems to have understood, that the process of modernity is not the sole property of Eurocentric thought and actions.”11 This is the first time that an African architect and scholar expresses self-consciousness in writing on challenging the Romantic Modernist memory, and it is to be hoped that it is only the first step towards a new historiography of modern architecture that takes the African perspective as starting point. This new historiography, coupled with the self-conscious work of a now emerging new generation of African architects, with already famous names as Francis Kéré, Kunlé Adejemi and Heinrich Wolff, will, in weaving together the multiple strands of African modernity, provide the answer as to what ideology the modern Africa is built. 179 rarely an academic designer involved. The building permit, if at all required, is more a matter of network and money than of professional agency and the builder may well be the craftsman from around the corner. Kingelez’ image of the ‘Ville Fantôme’ is however also carried on by many other artists, architectural students and architects. They now create an expressionist typical African modernity in architecture that is unmistakably of the same inspiration as Kingelez’ work, informally emerged but now formalized in the ‘surmodernité’ of Pierre Goudiaby Atépa and his epigones, as Danièle Diwouta-Kotto has christened it.8 RE-SURFACING AFRICAN MODERNITY For the sake of the argument, the above image of African originated memories on architectural modernity has been outlined in rough brushstrokes. Of course, there are many overlaps between the different modernization processes, blurred boundaries between them, and exceptions to the rules. However, it can be safely stated that, during the first half of the 20th century, there were no African-born architects active, with the exception of South Africa, and there was no writing on informal architecture9 which confirms the split between the European-originated and the African-originated memories of modern architecture in Africa. Since the 1950s, a new academic African modernity commenced to surface. The first generation of academically trained African-born architects NOTES 1 Modernity here is understood as expression of the (aspirations to) a modern life, in typology, technology, materials and aesthetics,. 2 Denslagen, J.W. Romantisch Modernisme. Nostalgie in de Monumentenzorg. Amsterdam (SUN) 2003. 3 Modernism in this context refers to the Modern Movement in Architecture that originated in the 1920s and created its own socially-oriented ideology and language, rejecting the notion of style and decoration. 4 Rapoport, Amos. House Form and Culture, Englewood Cliffs (Prentice- Hall) 1969. 5 Amongst others: Africa Big Change – Big Chance, Triennale di Milano (2014), African Modernity, Vitra Weil-am-Rhein (2015) 6 Elleh, Nnamdi African Architecture. New York (McGraw-Hill) 1996. 7 Lauber, Wolfgang Deutsche Architektur in Kamerun – 1884-1914 Stuttgart (Karl Krämer) 1988. 8 Diwouta-Kotto , Danièle (text)and Sandrine Dole (photographs). Suites architecturales – Kinshasa, Douala, Dakar. Epinal (d’architectures d’Afrique Association VAA) 2010. 9 Not from a cultural perspective that is. 10 Kultermann, Udo New Architecture in Africa. New York (Brazilier) 1963. 11 Omezi,Giles, in paper delivered at African Perspectives Delft in 2007.


AfrikaUK
To see the actual publication please follow the link above