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The online database capturing Africa’s disappearing vernacular architecture

Published at: 23 June 2015


Africavernaculararchitecture.com is one of the few archives that are working to document Africa’s disappearing architectural heritage. In his article for website Archdaily called, quite simply, ‘Why I Created a Database to document African Vernacular Architecture’ American architect Jon Sojkowski, the websites founder, breaks it all down.

‘Architecture is a unique component of a country’s culture just as much as its language, music, art, literature or food. Architecture is also the most visual of those cultural components; the pyramids in Egypt, skyscrapers in New York, a temple in Japan, and onion domes in Russia all convey a unique image. This is called “genius loci,” the “spirit of a place”. Every country has its own genius loci, its own uniqueness. Vernacular architecture is composed of local materials and derived from local customs, techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation. But vernacular architecture in most (if not all) African countries is disappearing, being abandoned for western materials and technique.’

Sojkowski’s passion for African architecture began when he was a Peace Corps Volunteer, living in a mud hut in Zambia. He fell in love with the organic and affordable functionality of vernacular architecture and has since made it his life’s mission to make sure it doesn’t go unrecorded.

His meticulous records and detailed photographs will take you on a virtual journey through some of the continents most innovative architectural approaches to sustainability.



Go and have a look at africanvernaculararchitecture.com

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