Hikma Community Complex in Dandaji, Niger, atelier masōmī and Studio Chahar, 2018. Image © James Wang, courtesy of atelier masōmī.

This article was originally published on Common Edge.

Compared to that of the West and East, awareness and knowledge of the architecture of sub-Saharan Africa—Africa south of the Sahara Desert—is scant. A new book intends to mitigate this oversight, and it’s a significant accomplishment. Architectural Guide Sub-Saharan Africa (DOM publishers, 2021), edited by Philipp Meuser, Adil Dalbai, and Livingstone Mukasa, was more than six years in the making. The seven-volume guide presents architecture in the continent’s 49 sub-Saharan nation-states, includes contributions by nearly 340 authors, 5,000 photos, more than 850 buildings, and 49 articles expressly devoted to theorizing African architecture in its social, economic, historical, and cultural context. I interviewed two of the editors—Adil Dalbai, an architectural researcher and practitioner specializing in sub-Saharan Africa, and Livingstone Mukasa, a native Ugandan architect interested in the intersections of architectural history and cultural anthropology—about the challenges of creating the guide, some of its revelations about the architecture of Africa, and its potential impact.

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