“Architecture of Independence-African Modernism” on View at the Center for Architecture in New York

Accra, Ghana – Independence Square, 1961. Photo © Manuel Herz

“Architecture of Independence – African Modernism,” a current exhibition at the Center for Architecture in New York, explores the history and legacy of modern architecture in 1960s and 1970s postcolonial Africa, following the independence of many Sub-Saharan countries.

FIDAK – Foire Internationale de Dakar, Dakar (Senegal), by Jean Francois Lamoureux & Jean-Louis Marin, 1974. Courtesy Iwan Baan 

“Between 1957 and 1966, 32 countries – almost two thirds of all African nations – gained their independence from colonial powers,” states the Centre for Architecture. “The daring and ambitious designs of new buildings, from state banks to convention centers and stadiums, mirrored the optimism and aspirations of the newly liberated states.”

La Pyramide, Abidjan (Côte d’Ivoire), by Rinaldo Olivieri, 1973. Courtesy Iwan Baan

Surveying the legacy of modernist architecture in Ghana, Senegal, Côte d’Ivoire, Kenya, and Zambia, the exhibition—curated by German architect Manuel Herz to initially debut at the Vitra Design Museum in 2015—conveys the role of experimental and futuristic architecture as a tool for the expression of national identity.

Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi (Kenya), by Karl Henrik Nostvik, 1967-1973. Courtesy Iwan Baan

“Architecture of Independence – African Modernism” is on view through May 27, 2017, and will be accompanied by a series of related events at the Center for Architecture, including a conversation with architectural photographer Iwan Baan on March 15, and a lecture from Nigerian architect Kunlé Adeyemi, founder of the firm NLÉ, on April 18.

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