Colonial modernism and architectural science: Historic developments in Sub-Saharan Africa

  • YEAR
    Olweny, Mark
    2016 Conference Papers
    Architectural Science and Design Education
    Conference Papers


Formal architectural education in sub-Saharan Africa (excluding South Africa), founded at the height of tropical modernism, a link that embedded a scientific approach to architecture as a key part of the new curricula. Over the years, however, engagement with architectural science has all but vanished, little more than basic rules-of-thumb, which has raised concerns in face of growing awareness of the need for ESD in architecture and architectural education. Seeking answers, this paper interrogates the socio-political events following the Second World War than may have contributed to this state of affairs. The contextual realities of tropical modernism, with roots in the less palatable moniker, colonialism modernism, emerges as a key factor in this discourse. While tropical modernism was initially embedded in architectural education, its historic links to colonialism contributed to it, being jettisoned as part of the Africanisation of curricula as part of post-colonial ideological shifts. Being associated with tropical modernism, architectural science was thus relegating to the periphery of architecture programmes, and may partially explain the continued nonchalant attitude toward architectural science today. Any attempt to revisit this engagement naturally has to come to terms with this reality as an important step in engaging with discourse on architectural science education into the future.


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