An exhibition of modernist architecture traces the triumphs and contradictions of post-colonial nation-building in central and sub-Saharan Africa
An exhibition that began last week in Weil-am-Rhein presents the architecture that emerged in central and sub-Saharan Africa in the period following the decolonisation of the region in the 1960s.
The show at the Vitra Design Museum presents the experimental and futuristic designs for civic and cultural building that five new nations – Kenya, Côte d'Ivoire, Zambia, Ghana and Senegal – used to express their new-found independence and national identities.
Researched and curated by architect and author Manuel Herz, with substantial contribution from photographer Iwan Baan, the exhibition presents more than 80 structures – parliament buildings, central banks, stadiums, conference centres, universities and independence memorials – tracing the nation-building processes of each country.
The bold designs echo the forward-looking spirit of the time and place but also the contradictions and dilemmas the countries experienced in their independence processes – as designs and architects were often imported from foreign countries, if not from one of the former colonial powers.
Architecture of Independence – African Modernism runs at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil-am-Rhein until 31 May
Images: Iwan Baan; Manuel Herz; Alexia Webster