Check out the 4 'out of this world' African architectural projects nominated for Aga Khan award

Projects are competing for $1 million in prize money.

THE Aga Khan Award for Architecture is given every three years to projects that set standards of excellence in architecture, planning practices, historic preservation and landscape architecture. 

The Award seeks to identify and encourage building concepts that successfully address the needs and aspirations of societies across the world, in which Muslims have a significant presence.

19 projects have been shortlisted for the 2016 Aga Khan award from 348 projects - they are competing for $1 million in prize money.

African architects have recently been increasingly in the limelight for their futuristic and brilliant designs which solve local problems. Here we take a look at the four projects from Africa that have been shortlisted for the Aga Khan’s prize: 


Guelmim School of Technology, Morocco

A boldly contemporary construction, the school was conceived in line with a policy of decentralisation and making education more accessible to those living in remote areas. Comprising a 250-seat lecture hall, classrooms, laboratories, study rooms, library, offices, sports grounds and staff accommodation, the campus is connected by a series of canopies that create sheltered walkways and seating areas along the north/south axis dividing the campus into two. 

The architects were careful to keep its context in mind with thermal considerations that directed the orientation, window shading and natural ventilation. The exterior walls are painted ochre, blending with the landscape and the town, while a choice of local plants and natural ornamental rockeries minimised the need for water. 


Casa-Port New Railway Station, Morocco

This transport hub, designed to take 25 million passenger trips per year in the future, comprises a large passenger hall opening onto a wide square to the southwest and the platforms to the southeast, a shopping centre located on the lower level of the hall, an underground car park and an office building. In anticipation of future transformations, the hub has been devised in a way that allows its future connection with a potential regional express line station. In its spaces, volumes, materials, lighting and geometry, the station carries on the heritage of Moroccan palaces and public buildings, while paying tribute to the modernity of Casablanca.


Makoko Floating School, Lagos

Makoko floating school is an alternative building system that provides space for education and cultural programmes in Africa’s coastal regions. The Floating School is a prototype structure whose main aim is to generate an alternative building system and urban culture for the populations of Africa’s coastal regions. 

The triangular A-frame or pyramid (10m high with a 10m x 10m base), built from locally sourced wood and bamboo and buoyed by recycled plastic barrels, is an ideal shape for tall floating objects on water. The structure has three levels: an open play area and community space; an enclosed space for two classrooms for 60 pupils, connected by stairs to the play area; and a semi-enclosed workshop space on a third level. It is scalable and adaptable for other uses, such as housing, health clinic, market, an entertainment centre or an infrastructure hub.


Thread: Artist Residency and Cultural Centre

Thread is a socio-cultural centre that houses two artists’ dwellings and studio space for local and international artists. It is a hub for surrounding villages, providing agricultural training on the area’s fertile land and a meeting place for social organisation which is, in rural Senegal, the crucial mechanism for sustainable development. 

A parametric transformation of the traditional pitched roof achieved through a process of inversion collects rainwater, creating a viable source for new agricultural projects during the eight-month dry season. Thread exists at a crossroads between (inter)national artist residency, agricultural hub, community farm, water source, exhibition and performance venue, cultural centre, local library, children’s play gym and village cell phone charger.

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