The traditional African house embodies the complexity of social systems and ways of thinking, forming a rigorously organized network of principles and concepts: a true “vernacular algorithm”! The fundamental ethics it supports was in a state of flux as buildings constructed by colonial powers made a clean break from distinctive identities and measures enabling mobilization. However, colonization is only the first movement of imperialism and the fertile ground for its prototyping; it will blossom in times of internationalism and industrial lobbying.
We’re living in a time when exponential demographics are giving a major boost to cities in African countries that are already experiencing the highest increase in urbanization worldwide. With that in mind, establishing a distinctive identity has seemingly taken the back seat in the face of providing housing for the influx of new arrivals as quickly as possible.
Yet we’re also living in a time that has seen a surprising development: a “neovernacular” revolution where high performance, scale and quality are combined with local factors, simplicity and soul. The makerspaces and their arsenal of democratized machines are a manifestation of this. Will Africa provide the architecture for the next industrial revolution,i.e. the first anti-industrial architecture?
Since 2012, it has been our view that today’s MIT nerd is the person who most closely resembles the Tammari builder! It’s the “wormhole” effect. These days, the use of open source plans, CNC machines, DIY drones in architecture and 3D printing building materials “deproletarianizes” the act of living, freeing us from the constraints of non-descript international styles while giving weight and meaning back to homes. Of course, one of the challenges for Africa is to minimize the environmental footprint. First and foremost, this is a window of opportunity for emancipating and decolonizing our future cities — it’s an opportunity that Africa needs to seize with both hands.