The architecture of Africa is extremely diverse and has evolved as a reflection of the variety of contemporary post-colonial, European colonial and pre-colonial cultural and traditional influences extending back many centuries. In the modern era, it is often characterised by non-residential buildings and dwellings that are inappropriately copied from overseas with little adaptation for the climate and lifestyle with heavy reliance on artificial lighting, ventilation, and air-conditioning. That said, there are many good examples of thoughtful buildings that respond well to their functional requirements, context, climate and culture.
In addition to non-residential buildings such as retail, office and community buildings, the BCI Urban Planning and Architecture team will focus our efforts on the development of affordable housing for lower-middle and low-income communities where the need is greatest. Our research will take a pragmatic approach to building design, suitability, sustainability and technical challenges. It will also extend to cultural expectations, lifestyle, and technology needs, so that our buildings and dwellings are appropriate to the needs of occupants now and into the future.
We will take our cues from existing building typologies that function well for the day-to-day activities and ceremonial functions of communities to develop a design methodology for the various types of dwellings and non-residential buildings that results in functional, attractive, contemporary buildings respectful of place, identity and culture. We will also subject them to end-user reviews, in our endeavour to provide tailored solutions for each subject community.
Primary architectural design principles to be considered:
Identity – Reflects the identity of place.
Simplicity – Uncomplicated but aesthetically pleasing.
Cost – Affordability without compromising quality.
Modular – Modular construction system for cost reduction.
Sustainability – Integration with renewable power and water harvesting infrastructure.
Efficiency – Passive heating/cooling, natural lighting and ventilation.
Flexibility – Non-residential buildings able to house multiple potential uses.
Expandability – Dwellings to accommodate growing or ageing families.
Privacy and Security – Internal and external.
Weather resistance – Ability to resist the elements over the life of the building.
Sanitation – Provision of waterproof bathrooms with flushing toilets.