In 2014, architect Jon Sojkowski created the first online database of African vernacular architecture, using photos he’d taken during his research trips to Zambia, Malawi, and Swaziland, as well as photos from Flickr and photographer submissions. So far, his database includes photos for 48 countries, and he’s asking more people to submit photos.
African cities count among some of the world’s fastest-growing urban centers, so much of the continent’s existing design research centered around urban landscapes. But Sojkowski argues that traditional architecture should be part of the conversation as well.
On the southern coast of Benin in West Africa, for example, there’s an entire city built on stilts. From churches to banks to even hospitals, the tradition of building bamboo huts above the ocean dates back hundreds of years.
Mali, also in West Africa, has entire cities made of mud, some more intricate than others. Sun-dried mud has been used to build mosques, archways, and homes, a technique that’s been passed down from generation to generation since the 14th century.