Don’t underestimate natural buildings… The Great Mosque of Djenne is built entirely out of mud and has been standing for a long time. It forms a part of Djenne heritage, but also daily life as a working mosque. And, when the whole community is part of sustaining and maintaining a mud building in this way, the building also contributes to social cohesion.
This is such an important lesson to remember when doing development work in southern Africa. When you eradicate mud buildings, it’s not just a building that you get rid of, but a social history and a chance for people to contribute to their community.
My article on Djenne’s main Mosque has been published in the Architect’s Journal this week and shortlisted for the Writer’s Awards
— A Primitive Art
Primitive. When most of us think ‘African art’, this is the word that springs to mind. African architecture is a subject detached further still from our understanding. An unrecognized art, architecture in Africa is usually observed through flickering documentaries and fading books categorized under anthropology or archaeology; studied in fleeting glimpses under subheadings of politics, colonialism and oil – interests that make mention of buildings only as a backdrop for more pressing concerns circling the continent.
Yet the architecture of Africa is perhaps richer for the fact that it has remained dormant in our eyes, slipping away from our conscience like a half-remembered dream. Different in every sense of the word, from the materials to the form and construction, this indigenous and localised architecture remains…
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