Our Past Present Future…

I have always accepted and respected all other schools of architecture, from the chill and elemental structures of Mies van der Rohe to the imagination and delirium of Gaudi. I must design what pleases me in a way that is naturally linked to my roots and the country of my origin. – Oscar Niemeyer



I got into work Friday morning and picked up the Times of Zambia  newspaper dated November 14th 2014  it had an article http://www.times.co.zm/?p=45118  done by DIXON BWALYA. This article sprung some interest, it really had me thinking.

“Dixon wrote “IT may be said that indigenous architecture is that architecture which moulded to respond to the local environment which environment may include climatic factors, social and cultural considerations as well as energy demands.”

When I was in my sencond year of Varsity, I did a course in History of Architecture. It brushed on major cities, indegenous Architecture around the world with an emphasis on why and how they came in to being. It was evident that since the begining of time Architecture has evolved, going on trend, political influence, social/economical and cultural status. The Architecture fit the era or is it the era fit the Architecture.

The Zambian homestead is a perfect example of architecture that understands and conforms to social cultural norms of the Zambian people and it’s evironment. Away from just the aesthetics of it all, it tells a story of families, community setup and socialisation ideals.

The making of the homestead or traditional huts is a good combination of Community based labour and locally available materials. Predominantly but not restricted to thatched roofs, mud, brick (be it burnt brick or not) walls, or rammed earth walls and a little wooden door. These structures are as diverse as the culture that precedes the region but they still manage to have many similarities.
Looking around, it makes it clear that where I could boast of an abundance of beautiful natural resources and scenery. I could not do the same of our Indigenous Architecture. Even though it offers enough uniqueness to stand on its own merit and tell a silent story of its region and people. The unique characteristics of a traditional Zambian hut have been abandoned and replaced by modern forms of construction in the urban setup.

Ever wondered if we had green roofs?

My soul wish is that we lead to have character in a world where modern forms are the norm. Somewhere along the line we  overlooked the Integration process by marrying what we know now seamlessly with what  to me is the epitome of Zambian Architecture.
A simple search will reveal how studies are currently being done to design and build skyscrappers made of wood and also rammed earth.

We forgot to ask the why? and how?as we progressed, learning from those who were the first architects of our land. Studying the seemingly simple forms and transforming them into practical works of beautiful design.
So before the rest of the world comes to tell us we had it right all along with our primitive mud thatched houses. Making it clear that they were and still are works of pure generous. Let us learn why our ancestors managed to be so sustainable, borrowing from their immediate environment and adding character to their architecture. Marrying Modern forms with our historic building methods and structures and growing into our  very own style.

Design at whose cost? What is not feasible and viable is a failure. We continue to buy what we can’t afford.” Chief Tokunbo Omisore

C.F. Møller is currently at work on one of the world’s tallest timber skyscrapers


Thatch house in its early construction phase
Burnt brick-kiln
The mother art is architecture. Without an architecture of our own we have no soul of our own civilization.-
Frank Lloyd Wright

Thanks for reading. Zikomo.


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