The course surveys both the African and Diaspora built environment, teaching design practices that are culturally and environmentally sustainable. Students will be introduced to the research initiatives of CPDI Africa.

Course Details and Overview

  • This course is designed as an introduction to the architecture and urban design of Africa. By tracing the development of urban design from antiquity to post-modern times, students will gain the knowledge required to recognize, define and critique the art of modern African architecture and urban design. This course challenges the romantic notion of the “hut” as the only true icon of African urban design and development and replaces it with the full breadth of Africa’s historical and contemporary contribution to the discourse.

  • This course will investigate some of the diverse ways in which African peoples have articulated their sense of identity using the buildings they construct and the material culture they create. This course will evaluate the development of African design from a multi-disciplinary approach, utilizing key theories from the fields of Art History, Architecture, African Studies, History, Anthropology and Urban Planning. From these perspectives, we will study how culture, traditions, aesthetics, religion, politics, economics and geography shaped and influenced the design and construction of Africa’s past and present built environment.

  • This study is a regional survey of African architecture: North, South, East, West, Central, and Diaspora. It will cover the impact of science, technology and society on architecture and the built environment, and survey master builders, architects and designers, from antiquity to the present. In addition, an evaluation of the Community Planning and Design Initiative Africa project findings will be conducted.

Course Objective

  • The course Evolution and Transformation of African Architecture allows us to study the cultural and historical narratives of a people, as preserved through their architectural heritage and built urban landscapes. In this special course, students will engage in live architectural preservation research that seeks to articulate clear evolutionary concepts that translate the essence of traditional African architecture, into the contemporary built environment. The course seeks to reconnect the broken link of Africa’s architectural "natural evolution" as a result of colonization and imported cultural identities.

  • The research becomes critical as African societies embark on major infrastructure and redevelopment projects that at their core, seek to build upon more realistic ‘home grown’ models, inspired by African culture, history and architectural heritage. Over the duration of the course, students will be exposed to Evolutionary Architecture Collages, which will serve as foundational research for developing Design Briefs. A design brief, in lay terms, is an outline of all the features that must be included in the building a Client wishes their architect to design for them. In this scenario, students will be encouraged to create design briefs that can be used by architects, urbanists and development initiatives such as CPDI Africa, for the development of modern African architecture that seeks to preserve African and Diaspora architectural heritage.

Course curriculum

  1. 01
    • The Evolution and Transformation of African Centered Architecture

  2. 02
    • Module Six HT1202

    • Module Six Video

Earn the CPDI Africa Diploma


Certificates of Completion are awarded to students after completing each of the Modules contained in a course. All CPDI Africa courses are audited, allowing students to pace their progress and learning outcomes. Submission of research and assignments, and other learning objectives given by the instructors, is not required, however we encourage students to complete the assignments to aid in successful passing of the Diploma designation graduation exam. Designation of the Diploma in African Centered Architecture is awarded to a student upon successful completion of 3 (three) full CPDI Africa courses, taken either on the virtual platform, having completed face to face, or in person workshops in Africa, and successful passing of the graduating exam offered once annually. For more information on earning your Diploma in African Centered Architecture, contact the CPDI Africa Global Studio registrar at [email protected].