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African Architecture
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African Architecture & Built Environment

including traditional, vernacular, formal architecture; building, land use.   

Last updated: 20 Feb, 2023
Doc Created: 10 May, 2021 [adapting
existing page]

Owner: Tim McCormick - 
Editor(s): Tim McCormick -
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Access: open to all with link, for viewing, commenting, or suggesting. For full edit access, request from document owner.

Twitter hashtag / search link: #AfricanArchitecture [note, case-insensitive]



Other Bibliographies

References / Bibliography




This is a peer-sourced, open bibliography and reference page for works on African architecture, built environment, and land use, managed by HousingWiki project. It is especially oriented to works in English, and works that are available for free access online.

We aim to use the hashtag #AfricanArchitecture to periodically check for and post new materials (on Twitter, perhaps also with other social media).

See article "Topic Pages" by Tim McCormick, discussing idea of semi-automated gathering & curating of material via social media by such method.  

Tim McCormick @tmccormick
If it seems useful/wanted, I can gather, edit to open doc at  (p.s. same offer on other topics, to make [hashtag] This method might also be semi-automated to append additions/suggestions to page, & is efficient for distributed workflow.
10:29 PM · May 9, 2021

Latest notes/additions

Feb 20, 2023

"African Architects": song by by Jane Musoke (Musician at Abantu music), London.

My song, African Architects, celebrates African men and women who designed and built the architectural wonders of five African countries:

Uganda, South Sudan, Ethiopia, Zimbabwe and Nigeria.

The architectural wonders, that still stand today, are a reminder of the importance of hard work, prayer and community.

African Architects has lyrics written and sung in Luganda, English and Latin.


"It's fair to say

That on any given day

Facing challenges will help us thrive

Forming stories that enrich our lives

If we work hard and pray

Then great things

Will come our way

Ssinga tukola n'amaanyi

Era ne tusaba

Tujja funa ebintu ebirungi

Well as the elders say

God only helps those

Who help themselves

Let's begin the work today

Here are monuments to hard work that still stand today

The iconic pyramids at Meroë

In South Sudan, East Africa

The majestic Kasubi tombs

In Buganda kingdom

Uganda, East Africa

Ohhh ohhh

The stunning city of Great Zimbabwe in Masvingo province

Zimbabwe, Southern Africa

The Great Walls of Benin City

In Edo State, Nigeria,

West Africa

And the beautiful Churches of Lalibela, in Ethiopia, East Africa

These architectural wonders

Designed and built by African men and African women

Who studied, worked hard and prayed.

Our legacy of hard work and ingenuity still stands today

If we work hard and pray, then great things will come our way

Ssinga tukola n'amaanyi

Era ne tusaba

Tujja funa ebintu ebirungi

Yes we work hard and pray

Tukola n'amaanyi era ne tusaba

Laboramus fortiter et oramus

We work hard and pray

Tukola n'amaanyi era ne tusaba

track credits: from African Architects, track released October 4, 2021.

Other Bibliographies

Nmadili N. Okwumabua. "Introductory Research Bibliography for African Architecture & Design."  Google Docs version.

References / Bibliography

Asomani-Boateng, R. (2011). "Borrowing from the past to sustain the present and the future: indigenous African urban forms, architecture, and sustainable urban development in contemporary Africa." Journal of Urbanism: International Research on Placemaking and Urban Sustainability, 4(3), 239–262. (Paywall $).

Bourdier, Jean-Paul, and Trinh Minh-ha (1996). Drawn from African Dwelling.

Available from Internet Archive - borrowable for 1hr at a time:

Denyer, Susan. African Traditional Architecture (1978).

Available for 1-hr loan from Internet Archive.

Eglash, Ron. (1999). African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design. Rutgers University Press, 1999. ISBN 9780813526140. Available from Library Genesis.

Elleh, Nnamdi. African Architecture: Evolution and Transformation (McGraw Hill,1997).

so far [except for perhaps Meuser & Dalbai, 2021] the broadest, most extensively researched, best illustrated survey, a landmark work. Unfortunately, not very available - at last check 10-05-2021 US$495 used online, no previews on Amazon or Google Books. Elleh is Associate Professor of Architecture, History and Theory at the University of Cincinnati. He was trained as an architect and received his PhD in art history from Northwestern University.

Fathy, Hassan (1969). Architecture for the Poor: An Experiment in Rural Egypt. (initially published by the Egyptian Ministry of Culture in 1969 under the title Al-Gurna: A Tale of Two Villages).

Fraser, Douglas (1968). Village Planning In The Primitive World. George Brazilier, 1968.
Available from Internet Archive:; and

Freund, Bill. (2007). The African City: A History. Cambridge University Press, ISBN 9780521821094. Available from Library Genesis.

Gardi, René (1973). Indigenous African Architecture.

On Internet Archive - borrowable for 1hr at a time:  No longer available.

Garlake, Peter. Early Art and Architecture of Africa (Oxford University Press, 2002).

Available from Internet Archive - borrowable for 1hr at a time:

Available from ISSUU (online reading only):

Hull, Richard (1976). African Cities and Towns before the European Conquest.

Available for loan from Internet Archive: ​​

Koutonin, Mawuna. (2016). "Story of cities #5: Benin City, the mighty medieval capital now lost without trace." The Guardian, 18 Mar 2016.

Kulterman, Udo Kultermann. (1969). New Directions in African Architecture. London: Studio Vista, 1969. ISBN 289-79674-1. Available from Library Genesis.

Lokko, Lesley Naa Norle. White Papers, Black Marks: Race, Culture, Architecture. University of Minnesota Press, 2000. Preview available at Google Books:

​​Lesley Lokko, is the founder and director of the African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana, an independent postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform. @LokkoLesley.

N. Ola Uduku. "Colonial face of educational space."
Malindi Neluheni. "Apartheid urban development."
Kwasi Boateng and Chris Nasah. "Lively hazardous places."
Michael Stanton. "Rack and the web: the other city."
Ana Betancour and Peter Hasdell. "Tango : a choreography of urban displacement."
Edward Ihejirika. "Intensive continuity."
J. Yolande Daniels. "Black bodies, black space : a-waiting spectacle."
Jane M. Jacobs, Kim Dovey and Mathilde Lochert. "Authorizing aboriginality in architecture."
Araya Asgedom. "Unsounded space."
Mitchell Squire. "Paris done burnt!."
Imogen Ward Kouao. "Anything red doesn't come to the house."
Felecia Davis. "(un)Covering/(re)covering."

May, John (2010). Handmade Houses & Other Buildings: The World of Vernacular Architecture. (also published as: Buildings without Architects: A Global Guide to Everyday Architecture, by Rizzoli). Anthony Reid, editor.

Meuser, Philipp, and Adli Dalbai, editors.(2021). Sub-Saharan Africa Architectural Guide. DOM publishers, €148.

Moughtin, Cliff (1985). Hausa Architecture. London: Ethnographica, in association with Institute of Planning Studies, University of Nottingham. ISBN: 9780905788401. 175 pages : 21 x 23 cm. Available from Internet Archive - borrowable for 1 hour at a time:

Topics: Vernacular architecture Nigeria, Hausa (African people) Social life and customs, Hausa (African people) -- Social life and customs, Architecture, Hausa, Vernacular architecture -- Nigeria, Vernacular architecture, Hausa (volk), Bouwkunst, Nigeria

Myers, Garth A. (2011). African Cities: Alternative Visions of Urban Theory and Practice. Zed Books, 2011. ISBN 9781848135109. Available from Library Genesis.

Prussin, Labelle (1995). African nomadic architecture : space, place, and gender. Washington: Smithsonian Institution Press, National Museum of African Art.  Available from Internet Archive - borrowable for 1 hour at a time:

Wilson, Mabel O., Charles L. Davis, and Irene Cheng, eds. (2020). Race and Modern Architecture: A Critical History from the Enlightenment to the Present.

Woodfork, Jacqueline Cassandra (2006). Culture and customs of the Central African Republic. Westport, Connecticut, USA : Greenwood Press, 2006.  xxi, 191 p., [10] p. of plates, 25 cm, Includes bibliographical references (p. [177]-181) and index.
Available from Internet Archive - borrowable for 1 hour at a time:

Religion and worldview -- Literature and the media -- Art, architecture, and living patterns -- Cuisine and traditional dress -- Gender roles, marriage, and family -- Social customs and lifestyle -- Music and dance.


of note, of Twitter, etc. Please suggest!

​Lesley Lokko, is the founder and director of the African Futures Institute in Accra, Ghana, an independent postgraduate school of architecture and public events platform. @LokkoLesley.


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