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EAga very three years, the $1 mil­lion (R15.5 mil­lion) Khan Award for Ar­chi­tec­ture fo­cuses on in­spir­ing ar­chi­tec­tural struc­tures that ad­dress the needs of Is­lamic so­ci­eties. This year, in par­tic­u­lar, it iden­ti­fied four fas­ci­nat­ing vi­sions for new ar­chi­tec­ture on the African con­ti­nent. The Makoko Float­ing School in Lagos, Nige­ria, de­signed by NLE ar­chi­tects, is the bet­ter known among them for its unique use of a body of wa­ter, ma­te­ri­als and meth­ods.

Red desert sand evokes the colours and tex­tures of the Maghreb na­tion in the Tech­nol­ogy School of Guelmim, de­signed by Casablanca-based ar­chi­tects Saad El Kab­baj, Driss Ket­tani and Mo­hamed Amine Siana. They present a typ­i­cal Ber­ber ver­nac­u­lar of dou­ble, some­times triple-vol­ume ceil­ings; wide and partly cov­ered path­ways; and pro­tected spa­ces that are all in­ter­linked by nat­u­rally ven­ti­lated, shady gar­den court­yards. It’s a sen­si­tive reimag­in­ing of lo­cal tech­niques that is in­dis­putably Moroc­can. Casa-Port New Rail­way Sta­tion, Morocco’s sec­ond nom­i­nee for the award, also em­braces tra­di­tional Moroc­can tech­niques with a mashra­biyya-like lat­ticed screen. In Ja­panese ar­chi­tect Toshiko Mori’s New Artist Res­i­dency in Sene­gal, an un­du­lat­ing bam­boo and thatch su­per­struc­ture sub­verts the typ­i­cal Sene­galese pitch roof into a rain­wa­ter catch­ment de­vice that pro­vides the lo­cal vil­lage with 40% of its do­mes­tic wa­ter. The space has be­come a vi­brant venue for artists and the com­mu­nity alike. Star­chi­tect Zaha Ha­did, who passed away ear­lier this year, has also been nom­i­nated for her Is­sam Fares In­sti­tute in Beirut – her first Arab build­ing – and the struc­ture is one of her finest and most am­bi­tious works, so this year my money is on Ha­did tak­ing the prize. But let’s see, maybe some­one from Africa will bring it home.


NEW ARTIST RES­I­DENCY A light­weight, nat­u­rally ven­ti­lated struc­ture for a no­to­ri­ously hot area


MAKOKO FLOAT­ING SCHOOL for float­ing struc­tures NLE ar­chi­tects’ in­no­va­tive model

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