The undeniable success of Marvel’s Black Panther film has pushed afrofuturism into the limelight, with more people fascinated in the movement centered on the fusion of African culture and technology. As it enters mainstream pop culture, more artists, designers, musicians, and architects are gaining recognition for celebrating the uniqueness of African heritage through their work.
The origins of the movement can be traced back to the 1950s, when African-American musicians like Sun Ra began combining African influences with galactic themes. Author Mark Dery coined the term in his 1993 essay ‘Black to the Future’, making it clear that afrofuturism was a cultural movement and more than a mere form of expression. Rising from the need to redefine the African narrative, afrofuturism confirmed what the rise of postmodernist structures in newly independent African states symbolized. A world where Africans are the leading pioneers of science and advanced technology.
Afrofuturism in Architecture
In this round up, we explore the jaw dropping mega structures that champion afrofuturism – from presidential memorials to contemporary art museums.
Mausoleum of Agnostinho Neto
Location: Luanda, Angola
Situated in the largest city of Angola, the grand concrete mausoleum was built in honor of Angola’s first president Agostinho Neto. The Brutalist-style monolith towers over the city, and commemorates the nationalist president’s contributions to the liberation of Angola from colonial rule.
Pantheon of Martyrs of the Revolution
Location: Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso
Known for its rich culinary culture, Ouagadougou is also home to the Pantheon of Martyrs of the Revolution. It was originally called the monument of National Heroes, until 2014 when then-acting president of Burkina Faso Michael Kafando renamed it in memory of the fallen from the 2014 coup. While it features a silhouette reminiscent of the Eiffel Tower, the monument more closely resembles a spaceship preparing to launch into the future.
Kenyatta International Convention Centre
Location: Nairobi, Kenya
Designed to reflect the democratic state of Kenya, the Kenyatta International Convention Centre was commissioned by President Jomo Kenyatta to epitomize Kenya’s independence and self-governance. The center consists of a 28-story building as well as a stunning amphitheater, drawing inspiration from traditional Kenyan pitched roof houses. Even more breathtaking is the center’s use of African terracotta on its facade.
Bank of Central African States
Location: Yaoundé, Cameroon
Serving six central African countries, the Bank of Central African States stands majestically on Yaoundé’s skyline. Boasting a glass facade and tower-like structure, its authoritative presence symbolizes the rapid pace of Africa’s progress and development as it reaches new heights both literally and figuratively.
Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa
Location: Cape Town, South Africa
The largest museum of contemporary African art in the world, the newly-opened Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa sits on the waterfront in Cape Town. It takes on a postmodernist form with its concrete exterior topped with prismatic windows. The massive edifice is poised to house the best work from the region’s burgeoning art industry, elevating African art to an international stage.
Serpentine Pavilion 2017
Designed by: Burkinabe architect Diébédo Francis Kéré
The Serpentine Gallery hosts a stunning array of architectural gems. Diébédo Francis Kéré’s masterpiece deserves a spot on our list for its beautiful representation of the architect’s Burkinabe heritage. Made with prefabricated wooden blocks, the roof canopy is inspired by a tree that served as a meeting point for the community in the architect’s hometown of Gado. Triangular patterns fill the curved walls, painted in blue to symbolize the Gado’s ceremonial clothing, creating a peaceful communal space open to everyone.
What do you think of these mega structures? Share your thoughts on afrofuturism in the comments below!
If you enjoyed this round up, you’ll love our guide to Brutalist architecture which explains the origins of the industrial style. Subscribe to our newsletter to get inspiring interior and architecture inspiration straight to your mailbox.