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Callahan Fore ARC 6793: African Architecture Donna Cohen December 14, 2012



Table of Contents

1. Seminar Project (pgs. 4-18) a. Explanatory Paper b. Images of the Project c. Bibliography


Seminar Presentation (pgs.20-28)

a. PowerPoint printed out b. Bibliography
















Bibliography Ahmed, Baba. “Mali Islamists to continue destroying UNESCO sites.” The Jakarta Post . (accessed November 19, 2012). “Askia Tomb.” ArchNet. (accessed December 12, 2012). “Church of Saint George, Lalibela - Wikipedia.” Wikipedia.,_Lalibela (accessed December 12, 2012). “Desertification.” Wikipedia. (accessed December 12, 2012). “Heritage sites in northern Mali placed on List of World Heritage in Danger.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre. (accessed November 19, 2012). Idowu, Adeyinka Tubosun. “The African Cultural Heritage Preservation & Promotion: Nigerian Experience.” ARTS Conference . html#author-0 (accessed November 19, 2012). “The Importance of Preserving Our Cultural Heritage.” The Torchlight. e&id=2798:the-importance-of-preserving-our-culturalheritage&catid=45:editors-notes&Itemid=82 (accessed November 19, 2012). Prussin, Labelle. “The Architecture of Islam in West Africa.” African Arts 1, no.2 (Winter 1968): 32-35, 70-74. ---. “West African Earthworks.” Art Journal 42, no. 3 Earthworks: Past and Present (Autumn 1982): 204-209. “Tomb of Askia.” UNESCO World Heritage Centre. (accessed November 19, 2012).



Part 2- Seminar Presentation Colonization and the Modern Movement: Rationalization of the city Asmara is home to 649,000 inhabitants The city of Asmara is situated in Eritrea’s central maekel region divided into 13 districts. Land area: 4,694.3 sq mi


Asmara: Africa’s Secret Modernist City

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Asmara has been proposed as a new addition to the Unesco World heritage sites, for its amazing ar chitecture and unusual town planning. Asmara, meaning, “they made them unite” is the capital of the small east African country of Eritrea. The architecture came about mostly by the Italians in the 1930’s. The most interesting things about this city is that it contains some of the most beautiful modernist architecture than anywhere else in the world. It has been called the “Miami of Africa” Because of the need for quick development, the government at that time allowed experimentation of architecture. The city became the main destination for the modernist movement during that time. Eritrea gained independence from Ethiopia in 1991; this allowed the city to be more open to the world. The city was built within 6 years, which is unusual for the amount that was built. Mussolini planned to create a second Roman empire in Africa but failed to reach this mission due to the war and lack of money. It was thought to be that Asmara and its structure was a symbol for Fascism and that it was proved that it could work as a type of government.

Italian Control The city of Asmara was occupied by the Italians in 1889. In the late 1930’s, the Italians changed everything about the town in terms of structure and different buildings styles. Because of the Italian influence Asmara was once called Piccola Roma, which means little Rome.


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When Italy was defeated in 1941, the British took control of Asmara in 1941 to 1952 as an Italian administration. Asmara was then attainted by the Ethiopians after 1952 Under Ethiopian rule of Haile Selassie, the city was no longer called Asmara, but instead Addis Ababa located many miles to the south. After the end of the Eritrean war of independence in 1991, Asmara was then restored and became the capital of Eritrea. In a complete urban setting, Asmara displays sophisticated and rich building styles that are very unique for Africa. Under the rule of Mussolini in the 1930’s, Asmara was the birthplace of African modernism in which it includes many architectural forms like futurism, rationalism, novecento, and art Deco. This particular architecture was created to spark the idea of travel and adventure. The architecture of the city exuded a rich and healthy lifestyle. Much of the buildings display many interesting Italian ultra modern forms, for example, gas sta tions and other important buildings were designed as airplanes and boats and trains with art deco www interiors.

Cinema Impero An art deco style cinema • Built by the Italians in 1937 • Still used today. it is considered to be the largest Cinema constructed during the last period of the Italian colony. • Very important tourist attraction in Asmara

Fiat Tagliero Building • Building from the Future completed in 1938 • Service Station • Designed by Italian architect Giuseppe Pettazzi



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Looks like an airplane with wide spread wings. Currently owned by the Royal Dutch Shell oil company.

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Governor’s Palace Or the city Hall of Asmara Italian art deco building located in the city centre. Built in a fascist style. Center tower decorated in the entrance with “Fasci”

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Cinema Roma Built in 1937 Formerly known as the Cinema Excelsior Decorated façade of marble Renamed Cinema Roma during the Italian fascist occupation. Asmara is home to many outstanding architectural accomplishments An extreme modern city, but not in the way we normally see it. Asmara had more traffic lights than Rome when it was being constructed. Asmara is the definition of a planned city Not only did Asmara exemplify unusual forms of architecture it developed new features such as city zoning, wide boulevards, and political areas.

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Dar es Salaam The largest city in Tanzania Overtime buildings developed to fit in with modern big city picture Industrial center as well as a major port for Tanzania

The architecture of the city reflects the cities colonial past and just like Asmara, displays a wide variety of architectural styles of non-ornamented and monumental scale. These architectural forms have derived from many traditions such as Swahili, British, German, and Asia influences. After WWII, the modernist movement began and produced many contemporary multi storied buildings

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Modernism in East Africa was unusual and different when it was applied to architecture and urbanism in the 1950-60’s. Towards the end of the colonial period in the 1950’s this new wave of modern architecture was often the preferred expression of the colonial welfare state. This particular type of architecture brought energy, optimism and mostly hope to the African nation


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In Dar es Salaam, buildings were considered political objects meaning the political conditions of the society reflects how the architecture is used. “Architecture and urban space provide the physical framework in which social and political relations are formed.” Quote from Anthony B. Almeida. Some architects didn’t’t believe this to be true Architects in the Modernist Movement Ernst May, German architect before Almeida. In 1950, Anthony B. Almeida was the main architect that brought the new modern style of architecture to Tanzania and more importantly the east coast of Africa. After the independence in 1961, the modernist movement of architecture was a tool that brought significance to the African nation, providing strength and hope for a better future. Today, Dar es Salaam is a bustling, contemporary and energized city filled with rich architec tural styles and a complex urban life. The independence allowed for many architects to design in a more contemporary fashion. Anthony B. Almeida began his practice in 1950 and he was responsible for most of the modern buildings in Tanzania.

• “Either it would be a modern monumental building or it would not get built.” Quote from Al meida • Each building is designed to fit perfectly within the Tanzanian climate. • During the 1950’s architecture had a single approach establishing the difference between the interior and exterior. Almeida once said that “the outside should remain shutoff from the inside, we should look inwards.” • Modern or not, the natural ventilation is the most important aspect of a building. • The modernist movement was a simple way of building that brought the city together. It al lowed for a better living condition. • com/&aclsno=3211 Modernism was advocated as the favored architecture during that time. • According to Almeida, it was he who proposed and defended the modernist movement of archi tecture, while other modernists were backed by other colonial administrators. • Much of the architecture during that time corresponded to the British colonial policy to ethi cally segregate the population. • The modernist buildings established each community being accessible to some and excluding others • Do not follow one particular style, pattern or trend. Focuses on the quality of the building • There is an art to architecture. • The buildings by Almeida are modernist because of his personal design priorities and because it was the contemporary style • Almeida believed that buildings were considered as instruments for development and support ing the self-reliance of the nation, rather than the symbols, his primary concern was the func tionality. • 26



Almeida, Anthony B. “Tanzania Architecture.” Lecture. 1996. “Asmara - History of Asmara.” Asmara and Eritrea. (accessed December 12, 2012). “Asmara.” Wikipedia. (accessed December 12, 2012). “Dar es Salaam.” Wikipedia. (accessed December 12, 2012). Denison, Edward, and Guang Yu. Ren. Asmara: Africa’s secret modernist city. London: Merrell, 2003. Fuller, Mia. “Wherever You Go, There You Are: Fascist Plans for the Colonial City of Addis Ababa and the Colonizing Suburb of EUR ’42..” Journal of Contemporary History 31, no. 2 (1996): 397418. Kultermann, Udo. New directions in African architecture. New York: G. Braziller, 1969. Longrigg, Stephen H. “The Future of Eritrea.” African Affairs 45, no. 180 (1946): 120-127. (accessed December 12, 2012). Waugh, Evelyn. The Coronation of Haile Selassie. London: Penguin, 2005.



The Tomb of ASkia  
The Tomb of ASkia  

The Tomb of Askai was built in 1495, it exhibits mud building technology.