Lumumba Hall - Makerere University, Kampala, Uganda, Jean Molitor, February 2023
Buildings for Higher Education in Africa





Access to formal education has long been considered essential to progress by people in Africa. The design and building of educational institutions were also an important part of the post-war modernism construction boom around the world and on the African continent, coinciding with post-independence nation-building. From the 1940s through to the early 1970s, ambitious nations from Algeria to Zimbabwe invested in universities and higher educational buildings as both literal and physical centers of intellectual advancement for their nations’ youth in that jubilant era, heralding freedom from colonization and the emergence of self-rule.
More than half a century later, these edifices borne of hope and expectation have generally stood the test of time and remain recognizable features in many African cities and landscape settings. How these structures have fared architecturally and how they have been adapted or incorporated into contemporary life varies by country, institution, and socio-political context: an important subject to be studied. As the provision of educational buildings is still important to African nations and is part of the global sustainable development goals, what better time to revisit those purpose-built institutions in a time of hope and exuberance? Especially as their relevance remains critical to the development of Africa’s best and brilliant young minds?
This special issue of the Docomomo Journal focuses on educational institutions, particularly universities and other higher educational establishments built in Africa from the late 1940s to the 1970s, as instances of shared’ social, political, cultural, economic, and architectural heritage. This architectural heritage has been shared through actions of coercion, co-option, and co-operation between various proximal African countries, former colonial powers, and contemporary socio-economic partners. Many contributions are linked to the Shared Heritage Africa (SHA) Project—funded by the German Foreign Ministry (Auswärtiges Amt)—, which focused on the documentary rediscovery of modern university campuses as examples of cultural landscapes from the period of independence from colonial rule.

How to Cite

Uduku, O., & Manful, K. (2023). Buildings for Higher Education in Africa. Docomomo Journal, (69), 4–7.







Author Biographies

Ola Uduku, University of Liverpool

Is Head of Liverpool School of Architecture; prior to that she was Research Professor in Architecture at Manchester School of Architecture, (2017 – 2021). From 2011- 2017 she had been Reader in Architecture, and Dean for Africa, at the University of Edinburgh. Her research specialisms are in modern architecture in West Africa, the history of educational architecture in Africa, and contemporary issues related to social infrastructure provision for minority communities in the ‘West’ and ‘South’. She is an advocate of equity in all its forms in the workplace, particularly in the Architectural profession. She is co-lead of AHUWA, the Liverpool School of Architecture Research Centre focusing on Architecture and Urbanism in Western Africa,

Kuukuwa Manful, University of Michigan–Ann Arbor

Is a trained architect and researcher who creates, studies, teaches, and documents the history, theories, and politics of architecture in Africa. She is an Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. She curates adansisɛm - a Ghanaian architecture documentation collective; runs sociarchi - an architecture non-profit; and is president of Docomomo Accra. Her current projects include a book about ‘The Architecture of Education in Ghana’ and a study of the ‘Formalisation and Unformalisation of Architecture in West Africa’ using a collection of endangered archives that she has recently digitised.   


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