In this book, architect David Adjaye takes the reader on a visual journey around Africa’s cities. It celebrates urban space, commonly overlooked in European and North American imaginings of the country. Divided by region, it provides a broad geographical perspective on the topic: each section begins with an overview including a concise and well-written history of the area, and demographic statistics including population statistics, ethnic groups, languages, GDP and agricultural products. Aerial photographs are an especially effective addition to these overviews, allowing the reader to imagine the urban topography before exploring the more detailed architectural images that follow.
The photographs themselves express the vibrancy and variety of the regions, from the Mediterranean coastline of the Maghreb to the neo-classical elements of Cairo. The book does not shy away from potentially difficult topics, highlighting the prevalence of urban poverty, and the disruption of the Arab Spring. In the latter respect, it raises as many questions as it answers. This book may not be able to predict the future of these places, but it certainly provides a marvelous overview of their past and present.
Adjaye · Africa · Architecture: A Photographic Survey of Metropolitan Architecture, by David Adjaye, edited by Peter Allison. Thames & Hudson, 2016.
Originally published in Aesthetica Magazine.