Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa: Intertwined and Contested Histories, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa

Intertwined and Contested Histories, 1st Edition

Edited by Fassil Demissie


456 pages

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Colonial architecture and urbanism carved its way through space: ordering and classifying the built environment, while projecting the authority of European powers across Africa in the name of science and progress. The built urban fabric left by colonial powers attests to its lingering impacts in shaping the present and the future trajectory of postcolonial cities in Africa. Colonial Architecture and Urbanism explores the intersection between architecture and urbanism as discursive cultural projects in Africa. Like other colonial institutions such as the courts, police, prisons, and schools, that were crucial in establishing and maintaining political domination, colonial architecture and urbanism played s pivotal role in shaping the spatial and social structures of African cities during the 19th and 20th centuries. Indeed, it is the cultural destination of colonial architecture and urbanism and the connection between them and colonialism that the volume seeks to critically address. The contributions drawn from different interdisciplinary fields map the historical processes of colonial architecture and urbanism and bring into sharp focus the dynamic conditions in which colonial states, officials, architects, planners, medical doctors and missionaries mutually constructed a hierarchical and exclusionary built environment that served the wider colonial project in Africa.


'This valuable collection of scholarly articles has significantly broadened and deepened our understanding of colonial architecture and urban transformation in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Africa. The contributors to this volume have masterfully unpacked simplistic arguments that have failed to grasp the complex dynamics that shaped the relationship between colonial rule and city building in Africa. This book marks a significant advance in scholarship in the disparate fields of architectural history, urban studies, and city planning.' Martin J. Murray, University of Michigan, USA 'From the States, Africa and architecture operate as isolated symbolic territories. Attempts made to understand one often negate the other. Colonial Architecture and Urbanism in Africa demonstrates this mode of understanding is historically obsolete. This phenomenal collection of essays depicts the self-conscious inscription of the West's architectural/urban identities (eg. English, French, German) on to Africa. Such practices, usually taken as benign styles or formal technique, are meticulously analyzed for ideological content and political discourses. Within these details Africa, architecture, and urbanism represent the interrelated means to impose, manage, and defy complex aesthetic regimes. Indeed, the collection itself signifies the resistance to pervasive, colonial machineries and their claim on modernity and history.' Darell W. Fields, University of California Berkeley, USA and author of Architecture in Black '… the book is certainly to be acquired for its independent research and ’archival’ value of many of the chapters - and will make an important addition to any library with an interest in longer term urban and architectural development worldwide, especially focussed on African studies.' Newsletter of the Society of Architectural Historians of Great Britain '… the 16 essays included in this collection are undoubtedly a positive and very important addit

Table of Contents

Contents: Colonial architecture and urbanism in Africa: an introduction, Fassil Demissie; Part I Archaeology of Colonial Architectural and Urbanism: French territoriality and urbanism: General Lyautey and Architect Prost in Morocco (1912-1925), Hassan Radoine; Architectural transfer, Italian colonial architecture in Libya: 'Libyan rationalism' and the concept of 'Mediterraneity', 1926-1942, Vittoria Capresi; Imperial sanctuaries: Arab urban enclaves on the East African coast, Mohamed El Amrousi; The point of pointed architecture: its revival in Europe and its appearance in 'colonial' mosques, Cleo Cantone; Whose colony and whose legacy? Layers of power and hybrid identities in Edendale, Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, Debbie Whelan; The turning point in urban policy for British Colonial Africa, 1939-1945, Richard Harris and Susan Parnell; 'Aya Mahobo': migrant labour and the cultural semiotics of Harare (Mbare) African township, 1930-70, Maurice Taonezvi Vambe. Part II Colonial Disciplinary Institutions: Penal architecture: an essay on prison designs in colonial Senegal, Dior Konaté; Imagining a Christian territory: changing spatial strategies in the missionary outposts of Scheut (Kasai, Congo, 1891-1940), Bram Cleys and Bruno De Meulder; Pro fide et patria: Anglicanism and ecclesiastical architecture in Southern and Central Africa, 1848-1903, G.A. Bremner; 'Montcassin, Montserrat or … an Alcazar?' Architecture, propaganda and everyday school practices in the Collège du Saint-Esprit in Bujumbura (Burundi), Johan Lagae; The grid of Saint-Louis du Sénégal, Mark Hinchman; Buildings as symbols and metaphors of colonial hegemony: interrogating colonial buildings and architecture in Kenya's urban spaces, Maurice Amutabi. Part III Colonial Modernities: Building dominion and the colonial overseas: the culture of British fabrics of financial intervention in (South) Africa at the end of Empire, Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe; Das Neue Afrika: Ernst May's 1947 Kampala plan as c

About the Editor

Dr Fassil Demissie, Associate Professor, Department of Public Policy Studies, DePaul University, USA

About the Series

Design and the Built Environment

Design and the Built Environment

Urban design is an expanding discipline bridging the gaps between the established built environment professions of architecture, planning, surveying, landscape architecture, and engineering. In this position, urban design also borrows from, and contributes to, academic discourse in areas as diverse as urban geography, sociology, public administration, cultural studies, environmental management, conservation and urban regeneration.

This series provides a means to disseminate more substantive urban and environmental design research. Specifically, contributions will be welcomed which are the result of original empirical research, scholarly evaluation, reflection on the practice and the process of urban design, and critical analysis of particular aspects of the built environment. Volumes should be of international interest and may reflect theory and practice from across one or more of the spatial scales over which urban design operates, from environmental and spatial design of settlements, to a concern with large areas of towns and cities - districts or quarters, to consideration of individual developments, urban spaces and networks of spaces, to the contribution of architecture in the urban realm.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
POLITICAL SCIENCE / Public Policy / City Planning & Urban Development