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