Top 10 African Modern Houses
When one visits the cities in all African countries, it is easy to assume that African architecture has taken a back seat. However, contemporary African Architecture is still evident in sustainable rural development, schools, hospitals, swanky safari lodges, and even luxury apartments.
Across the continent, young and seasoned African architects are increasingly coming up with designs that showcase their innovation and sensitivity to upholding African traditions.
Traditional African architecture was practical. Structural designs were functional but also climate-smart. The building materials used were always readily available, but they were also selected according to the locality’s weather conditions.
African architects still use the concepts that traditionally influenced the choice of materials while at the same time demonstrating that African architecture has a place in 21st-century buildings.
Chongwe River House
Neil Rocher, a renowned architect with a portfolio in safari properties, designed the Chongwe River House. Located in Zambia, Chongwe River House is one of the modern houses that encompass African Architecture, not just in the choice of building materials but also in the layout.
This four-bedroom house combines African architecture in the use of both indoor and outdoor space. The architect used flowing curves to show the connection between the bedrooms and the open-air bathrooms. The open plan rooms overlook the wilderness.
Some of these features were common in traditional African architecture, such as open-air bathrooms and common outdoor spaces for leisure. The simple design is also characteristic of African architecture.
The open plan connects the lounge, dining area and bar. The furniture in these spaces have been carved out of wood, specifically a single winter thorn tree.
Chongwe River House also has some modern features, such as a swimming pool, sun loungers, and a wooden deck. Instead of putting all the rooms on one floor, as traditional African architects did, the architect opted to have two bedrooms on the ground floor and the other two upstairs.
By combining African Architecture with some modern architectural features, the architect brought to life contemporary African architecture that has become the cornerstone of houses and lodges located in the wild.
Tsalu Tarkuni Homestead
The Tarkuni Homestead was once the private home of the Oppenheimer family. However, due to its strategic location in South Africa’s largest private game reserve, they redesigned it. They turned it into private suites for visitors seeking luxurious rustic accommodations in the Kalahari Desert.
Made primarily using stone and grass thatch, this homestead showcases contemporary African architecture and its place in modern architecture. The grass-thatched roof is one of the most striking features in the main house. The roof is not only reflective of the work of African architects, but the massive design gives the illusion of the roof being the focal point of the house.
The architect connected the interior of the house with flowing outdoor decks. The stone walls help keep the rooms cool, even on hot days. The outdoor showers are another feature common in African architecture and retained by the architect.
Beachyhead house in Plettenberg Bay
SAOTA Architects designed this family holiday home in South Africa. Located in Plettenberg Bay, the family wanted an elegant yet relaxing home that could double as an entertainment area when hosting many guests.
Interestingly, the family wanted a design that could work, whether only one person or 100 people were in the house. The architects found a way to make use of space so that the property remains intimate irrespective of the people in the home at any given time.
The designers introduced critical aspects to African architects, including the views, wind direction, sunlight, and zoning parameters. Uninterrupted views of the ocean and the Outeniqua Mountains influenced the design.
At first glance, the house looks like a simple box floating over a dune, with large windows on all sides to capture the various views. The outer shell of the house depicts African architecture with contrasting textures. The rough concrete finish at the exterior at the lower level and the timber shutters in the upper level keep the house cool. They also protect the façade from the afternoon sun.
Villa Agava is a modern African house in Morocco. Architect Driss Kettani designed it. At a glance, this house is pretty modern, with some of the recent fixtures being used. However, the space usage has features that were present in traditional Moroccan African architecture.
The architect opted to retain sharp white walls, common in the Hispano-Moorish style, prominent with African architects in Morocco. The flat roof was a distinct feature in traditionally constructed mosques and Quran schools, and the courtyard shows the influence of Islam in Moroccan African architecture.
Elaborate geometric patterns were also a strong influence in this house’s design, where rectangular and square shapes are prominent and distinct due to the sharp corners. The glass slide doors and balcony boundaries allow natural light to flow throughout the house.
L’Amandier Hotel is a small intimate accommodation facility in Morocco. Nick Gowing Architects designed it. Two telltale signs of the traditional Moroccan African architecture retained in this modern design are the sharp geometrical lines unique to Moroccan buildings and the rich red earth shade reflected in the L’Amandier Plateau.
The designer did not just use sharp lines commonly used by African Moroccan architects, but he also opted for traditional local building materials to bring out African architecture. Narrow handmade bricks were used on the outer walls to fit the environment and counterbalance the smooth plastered interior walls.
Villa Amina was designed by a Benin-based architect Pascal De Souza. This eco-villa is located in Cape Coast, Ghana, and is an excellent example of traditional African architecture and modern designs.
The architect isolated the ceilings with grass and bricks, used open facades, palm concrete, and interconnected indoor and outdoor spaces as was traditionally envisioned by African architects. Some of the modern concepts include the use of solar to power the house and a swimming pool.
The glass screens are separated by wooden panels that allow in natural light and provides uninterrupted views of the landscape.
Red Pepper House
This house is located in Lamu, Kenya. Urko Sanchez Architects designed this house for Fernando Torres. The house owner wanted a design that had a connection between Lamu the town but secluded enough to provide some privacy. The architect opted to create a balance between nature and modernity in this structure.
The house is interconnected for moments when the entire family is around, yet easily closed off the only one unit when the owner is home alone. Since Fernando had a knee problem, the house was constructed on one floor.
Hidden amongst the trees but within walking distance from the beach, this grass-thatched house is a true depiction of African architecture. The architect used local artistry and materials. The Swahili makuti roof adorns the interior of the house, while the grass thatch covers the exterior. The walls were constructed using coral stone.
Just like traditional African architects, timber was used to provide support for the roof. Underneath the massive roof are small rooms made from concrete. A pool is in the courtyard
Solar energy powers the home.
Since Lamu experiences high temperatures, large open spaces and large windows provide cross ventilation. The traditional makuti roof helps to keep the house cool.
The Benguerra Lodge, located in Mozambique, was redesigned by Michaelis Boyd Associates. This luxurious retreat is on an unspoilt island in the Indian ocean. Surrounded by the white sand beach and the bush, the architect retained aspects of African architecture, such as traditional local construction materials.
Thatched roofs, timber structures, and reed walls were combined with modern Portuguese designs for a stylish yet comfortable contemporary African architecture. These materials are not only locally available, but they are ideal for keeping the spaces cool amid Mozambique’s hot weather.
The architect opted for rich patterned fabrics and terracotta tiles to enhance the appearance of Benguerra Lodge. Modern practices, such as recycling wastewater for irrigation and the use of renewable sources of energy, serve as a reminder of how adaptable African architecture, even with the passage of time.
Sossusvlei Desert Lodge
This Namibian lodge recently underwent a 10-month renovation and redesign by a South African-based company that sought to make this property fit in with the surreal desert landscape.
The ceiling to floor glass walls, outdoor showers, firepits, and large private verandas make this design a perfect mix of modern and contemporary African architecture.
All the rooms are sustainably lit with solar panels, which provide fuel for electricity, air conditioning, recycling systems, and water treatment.
La Lucia, Kwa Zulu Natal
La Lucia is a beachfront house with beautiful views of milkwood trees and the ocean. SAOTA architects introduced bronze aluminum as the signature of the building. Wood panels were used in various areas, including the walking platform to the house and the ceiling.
Wooden columns also stand in various parts of the house to provide structural support and add beauty to the house. The sliding wall to wall glass doors provide uninterrupted views of the surrounding.
The sharp lines and garden courtyards represent features in African architecture incorporated in this modern building. The outdoor pool and concrete walls are modern features incorporated in this luxury contemporary African architecture design.