What is an architectural design movement that celebrates and reflects African American culture? We will root the approach in the collective African Diaspora heritage of African Americans and examine how modern cultural trends relate to traditional African traditions brought over by our ancestors. The goal of this course is to discuss and propose new forms of architecture inspired by the way African Americans perceive and utilize space as well as their unique challenges within an American context.

Course Outline

  • This course is designed as an introduction to African American architecture and design aesthetics. By tracing the development of Black American design and aesthetics from their origins in Africa to their evolution to suit an American context, we will establish an argument for a new form of architecture that celebrates the lifestyle and place identity of African Americans. This course challenges the notion of Eurocentric architecture as being fully reflective of United States culture and particularly the African American community.

  • This course will investigate how African Americans have utilized space and engaged in placemaking practices throughout their history in the United States. We will draw on Black American cultural influences such as art, music, fashion, and interior design to find common characteristics that speak to a larger architectural style.

  • Our study will look at various projects of notable African American architects and designers that contribute to larger design discourse.

Course Objective

  • Architecture at its core is a physical reflection of the belief systems, values, and way of life of a particular people group. The African American population largely ostracized from this discussion through the course of history are engaging in an ever-evolving discourse concerning what type of aesthetics and ways the building define their lifestyle. This course seeks to continue that discussion and provide students with a framework for their inquiries into an architectural language that respects their diverse backgrounds.

  • The research becomes critical as African American developers and designers seek to create communities, public spaces, and cultural institutions that reflect the largely suppressed and constantly evolving collective cultural identity of Black Americans. Over the duration of the course, the student will be exposed to different cultural artefacts, rely on their own experiences, and analyze the experiences of others to support the development of 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 American architecture that seeks to preserve the African Diaspora architectural heritage.

Course curriculum

  1. 01
    • Towards an African American Inspired Architecture

  2. 02
    • HT1214-Module-1

    • Module 1

    • HT1214 - Module 1 Activity

  3. 03
    • CPDI Resources

    • YouTube Collection for CPDI Africa

  4. 04
    • HT1214 Bibliography

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].