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  • Writer's pictureJoia Preciosa

African architects, Talents in Africa

Updated: Apr 12, 2023

Africa has a rich and diverse architectural history that has been shaped by its geography, cultures, and history. There are many talented African architects who are making significant contributions to the field of architecture both in Africa and around the world. Here are some notable African talents in architecture:



  • Sir David Adjaye: Sir David Adjaye is a British-based architect of Ghanaian descent , he was Born in Tanzania on September 22, 1966. He lived across various countries before finally settling in London, Adjaye’s childhood exposed him to diverse cultures and the architecture of varied regions. He received his degree in architecture from South Bank University and a master’s degree from Royal College of Art in London in 1993.

In 2000, he set up his own practice, "Adjaye Associates" in London, with now offices in New York, Ghana and Berlin . Sir David Adjaye is one of the most prominent African architects of his generation. He is known for his innovative and thought-provoking designs that draw inspiration from his African heritage.

He is designed many notable buildings around the world, including the National Museum of African American History and Culture in Washington, D.C.

David Adjaye garnered many honours and awards for his work, including the prestigious Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Bronze Medal for architectural students (1993) and The Design Miami/ Designer of the Year award (2011).

He was appointed an Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 2007

and was knighted 10 years later for services to architecture, Elizabeth II chose him to join the Order of Merit (a group of no more than 24 individuals at a time who have distinguished themselves in science, art, literature, or public service.)

He was the recipient of RIBA’s 2021 Royal Gold Medal, one of the highest accolades in the field.


 

  • Kunlé Adeyemi: Kunlé Adeyemi was born on April 7, 1976. He is a Nigerian architect , designer whose work is internationally recognized for his innovation and originality.


He is the founder of NLÉ an architecture, design and town planning company founded in 2010. Adeyemi's remarkable works include "Makoko Floating School", a revolutionary floating structure prototype that once stood in the heart of the (Lagos Lagoon) Nigeria. This acclaimed project is part of the work of the NLÉ, "African Water Cities". In 2016, NLÉ launched MFS II, an improved iteration of Makoko Floating School at the 15th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale di Venezia, and received the Silver Lion Prize. The floating Makoko school has since become the "floating Makoko system". A simple, prefabricated construction solution for hydraulic installations.


But unfortunately, in june 2016 the famous floating school of Makoko, designed by Kunlé Adeyemi of NLÉ, collapsed after heavy rains hit the city of Lagos.

The school roof was still largely intact, but was directly on the floating base of the 256-barrel plastic building, as the lower levels and the support structure appear to have completely failed.



 

  • Titi Ogufere: Titi Ogufere is a Nigerian interior designer, critical design thinker and publisher at Essential Media Group. She is the Creative Director at Essential Interiors Consultancy, a pioneer interior designing company in Nigeria. The award-winning practice was set up in 2002 and has since established an international identity with a wide variety of projects that are context-specific, innovative, experimental, critical and theoretical. The award-winning firm was set up in 2002 and has since established an international identity with a wide variety of projects that are context-specific, innovative, experimental, critical and theoretical. In 2007, Titi Ogufere founded the Interior Designers Association of Nigeria (IDAN), firm charged with the promotion of excellence practices in the interior design sector of Nigeria. She is also the founder of the Essential Media Group, a publishing company that publishes Essential Interior Magazine; a magazine on urban and contemporary interior design. As the Creative Director of Essential Interiors Consultancy, an interdisciplinary practice and consultancy that works at the intersection of design, innovation and sustainability, she promotes design thinking that solves problems.

Titi Ogufere has designed high-end residential, commercial, and hospitality projects for an exclusive list of highly select clients across the globe.

She was announced as the 21st President of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI) on 27 February 2020.



 


  • Diébédo Francis Kéré: Diebedo francis Kéré was born in Gando, a village in Burkina Faso. Without a school in Gando, he left at the age of seven to study in Ouagadougou. During his studies in 1998, he created the association Schulbausteine ​​für Gando ("Bricks for Gando's school") to finance his first project, a primary school in his village. After his schooling, he became a carpenter. He built his first building, Gando Primary School, when he was still in college in 2001. The project was recognized in 2004 with the prestigious Aga Khan Award, for works built in countries with a significant Muslim presence. He studied architecture in Berlin, where he graduated from the Technical University of Berlin in 2004. Francis Kere was the first African architect to design a Serpentine Pavilion. Invited by London's Serpentine Galleries in 2017, the architect imagined a tree-shaped structure with a detached roof and curved walls formed by triangular modules in indigo, which represents strength in his culture.

Diebedo Francis Kere is an Honorary Fellow of Royal Architectural Institute of Canada (2018) and the American Institute of Architects (2012) and a chartered member of the Royal Institute of British Architects (2009).

Kéré is a dual citizen of Burkina Faso and Germany and spends his time professionally and personally equally in both countries. In 2022, he became the first African to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize.


 

  • Mokena Makeka: Mokena Makeka is a South African architect who is known for his innovative and sustainable designs. In 2015, he founded "Maison Makeka" , Africa’s first premium agave company, a fashion and lifestyle brand. He is also the founder and CEO of Makeka Design Lab, an award-winning interdisciplinary design firm led by architecture and urban design that deploys innovative design solutions on an urban scale. Mokena is also an Assistant Professor in the Graduate School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation (GSAPP) at #Columbia University, #newyork . He is a Desmond Tutu Executive Fellow and a member of the Principal Scientific Committee. He is a resident equity researcher at the School of Architecture and Planning at Wits University. Mokena has been recognized as a Young Global Leader by the World Economic Forum. He is a member of the African Leadership Network (ALN). Mokena has served on various boards and recently completed an executive education course at Harvard University on Global Leadership and Public Policy for the 21st Century.

Recognized for his talent and expertise, Mokena has received various architectural and urban design awards and has been awarded in design competitions, including being selected for one of the Ordos architects by Hertzhog, De Meuron and Ai Wei Wei.

He is the first recipient of the Gold Loerie Award for Communication Design and is the youngest recipient of the Awards of Merit from the Cape Institute for Architecture. He has won numerous awards for his work, including the 2015 GQ Men of the Year Award for Architecture.


 

  • Mariam Kamara : Mariam Issoufou Kamara is an nigerian architect she was born on April 1979, in Saint-Étienne, France. Mariam holds a Bachelor of Science in Computer Technology from Purdue University (2001) and a Master of Science in Computer Science from New York University (2004). Her thesis project, Mobile Loitering (2013), focused on issues of gender and public space in Niger, West Africa. Her research-based design was awarded a thesis prize in the Department of Architecture and special mention in the 2014 Young Architects in Africa Competition. Her thesis was also exhibited in the 2014 Milan Triennale in the exhibit Africa Big Chance Big Change. Following her graduation she worked with united4design on the UNHabitat project that aimed to rehabilitate an urban village in Niamey, Niger’s capital. This project led to the firm’s first built project, the Niamey 2000 affordable middle class housing pilot project that uses appropriate materials and passive techniques to decrease energy consumption. This sustainable project won an AIA Seattle Merit Award in 2016.


She is the founder of the architecture firm atelier "masōmī", an architecture firm whose interests lie in designing culturally, historically and climatically relevant solutions to spatial problems inherent to the developing world. She is also a founding member of Seattle-based collaborative united4design through which she worked on two major projects in West Africa .



 

  • Mick Pearce : Mick Pearce was born on June 2, 1938 in Harare. He graduated with distinction from the Architectural association of school of architecture in London in 1962. Mick Pearce left Zimbabwe in 2000 following the conflict in his country and then went to work in #Australia, where he designed the Council House in #Melbourne. He founded the International Biomimicry Institute and has worked in the UK, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Australia, China and South Africa . He lived in #China and after three years of work, he returned to Zimbabwe in 2012.

Michael Pearce has worked in #Zimbabwe and #Zambia for 33 years. His experience spans a wide range of buildings in remote parts of central #Africa to the conversion of old buildings in the north east of England and large-scale urban developments in Harare, Zimbabwe.

Engaged in an appropriate and reactive architecture, Michael Pearce specializes in the development of buildings that require little maintenance, low investment and operating costs and renewable energy systems with environmental control.


 

  • Mphethi Morojele : Born in Lesotho, Mphethi Morojele studied architecture at the University of Cape Town and the Bartlett, University College London. Mphethi Morojele is the owner and founder of the award-winning MMA Design Studio which was founded in 1995 in Johannesburg. His built and critical work has been recognized locally and abroad for engaging the African landscape through a contemporary interpretation of indigenous knowledge and cultural practices. He is a regular conference speaker and has curated exhibitions on South African architecture and urbanity at amongst others the Venice Biennale, the Royal Institute of British Architects, and AEDAS, Berlin. He was a key member of the scientific committee of the 2014 International Union of Architects (UIA) congress in Durban . He has curated exhibitions on South African Architecture at the Venice Biennale, the Royal Institute of British Architects and the 2010 Shanghai expo to name a few.

He was a member of the London School of EconomicsUrban Age” series and is an international speaker and guest lecturer on architecture in Africa. He has been a juror for many international competitions including for the UIA, the European Union, the Holcim Awards (Africa and Middle East,) and was a steering committee member of the recently inaugurated African Architecture Awards.


 

  • Christian Benimana : Christian Benimana is an architect from #Rwanda, he holds a Bachelor of Science in Architecture from the School of Architecture and Urban Planning (CAUP) of Tongji University in Shanghai, China (2008) and has served as the Secretary General of the East Africa Institute of Architects. He runs the Rwanda office of Mass Design Group, a research-focused architecture studio that frequently teams up with local governments and NGOs on socially driven projects. Christian Benimana is a co-founder of the African Design Center, an apprenticeship in the field which should be the BAUHAUS of Africa with the mission of empowering leaders who will design a more equitable, just and sustainable world.

Christian Benimana dreamed of becoming an architect, but there was no design school in his home country, Rwanda, so he applied and was accepted at #Tongji University in #Shanghai, #China.

Not transmitting his inability to speak Mandarin to oppose him, he managed to master the language before continuing his studies in architecture.

Upon his return to Rwanda, he joined the MASS Design Group as a Design Fellow in 2010 and now heads the company's Rwandan programs and the ADC.

He taught at the Kigali Institute of Science and Technology and chairs the school boards of the Rwandan Institute of Architects and the Institute of Architects in East #Africa.

Its goal is to develop the talent and potential of the next generation of African designers with socially oriented design principles .



 

  • Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo :She is a Nigerian architect born October 16, 1968 in Oyo State in Nigeria. At 14 she enrolled in Obafemi Awolowo University and graduated with a Bachelor of Science with Honors in Architecture at age 19. As an undergraduate she won the prize for Best Student Design. She is one of the greatest architects in Nigeria, her nicknamed is "the Starchitect" . She obtained her Master’s of Science in Architecture, with distinction, from the same university in 1991. At age 25, Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo founded her boutique architecture and interior design firm AD Consulting. She has several philanthropic ventures. In 1999, she founded the Awesome Treasures Foundation (ATF), a UN-recognised, faith-based NGO in Lagos, Nigeria. The foundation has a mission to raise 1,000 leaders by 2030, working especially women and young people.


As a public speaker, Adenowo has lectured on the arts, architecture, gender issues, women’s empowerment and entrepreneurial activities in Africa. She has been featured by the international media such as CNN.


 

  • Tosin Oshinowo : She is an architect, creative entrepreneur, author, and public speaker from Nigeria. She received her undergraduate degree in architecture from Kingston College London and her master’s degree in urban design from University College London‘s Bartlett School of Architecture. As an architect, Tosin is best known as the founder and principal of cmDesign Atelier (cmD+A), established in 2012. Based in Lagos, she has undertaken a number of predominant civic projects, including the design of the Maryland Mall and a wide range of residential projects, including luminous beach houses on the coast of the oceanside city.


Tosin Oshinowo has designed the Ngarannam village in northwest Nigeria to replace a settlement destroyed by the Boko Haram terrorist group.Created by the Nigerian government and the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the village have a marketplace, health clinic, community centre and primary school along with 500 houses .


 

  • Issa Diabaté is an architect and designer of Ivorian origin. He is graduated with a Masters in Architecture from Yale University. From 1991 to 1993, Issa Diabaté was an intern in architectural firms in Ivory Coast (Goly Kouassi), in the #unitedstates (Devrouax and Purnell) and in #France (Jean Nouvel and Catani). In May 1994, he joined the office of the SAU Guillaume Koffi as an architect trainee, to return in 1995 as director of architectural projects. In 2001, Issa Diabaté became a partner of Guillaume Koffi with the creation of Koffi & Diabaté Architects. Member of the Order of Architects of Ivoiry coast (CNOA), Issa Diabaté also evolves in the world of design, with his work presented at the DAK'ART Contemporary Art Biennial in #Senegal (1998 winner), and more recently at the ABIDJANOW (ARCHIBAT Event - #Abidjan , Ivory Coast) and DESIGN INDABA ( Capetown , Southafrica ) exhibitions.


In 2019 Issa Diabaté designed a chair for IKEA's Överallt furniture collection, which was launched at the Design Indaba conference in Cape Town.

The collection was included in Dezeen's Top 10 Furniture Designs of 2019. Issa Diabaté was also named Knight of the Order of Cultural Merit in Ivory Coast.





These are just a few of the many talented African architects who are making their mark on the world of architecture. Their innovative and socially responsible designs are helping to shape the future of the field and inspire a new generation of architects in Africa and beyond.

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