top of page

Education in architecture, planning and design in Africa: Challenges and vision for more sustainable and resilient African cities

Architectural education in Africa needs a shift. This involves integrating local social, cultural, and environmental considerations. The current Western-centric curricula are critiqued and a more holistic approach is advocated. Interviews with academics and researchers highlight the gap between traditional grid-pattern city planning and the actual needs of African communities. The importance of community engagement and understanding local contexts is stressed. Students are encouraged to explore African architectural heritage, engage with diverse perspectives, and adopt bottom-up approaches. This will help graduates build sustainable and resilient cities that address the unique challenges and opportunities in African urban environments.

MARK OLWENY, Architect, Educator, Senior Lecturer in Architecture, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, University of Lincoln, Research Associate Professor, Faculty of the Built Environment, Uganda Martyrs University. Experienced Senior Architect with a demonstrated history of working in developing countries. Skilled in Environmental Design, Sustainable Architecture, Urban Design and Architectural Education. Strong administrator, Doctorate in Philosophy (PhD) focused in Architecture from Cardiff University / Prifysgol Caerdydd.
I believe a new direction for architecture and planning education should begin with a more holistic approach

Unfortunately, architectural and planning curricula on the continent are still largely based on the western approach. Thus, much of what is taught and what is considered important in the curricula comes from outside rather than within the continent. Moreover, if you look at some of the old schools that came into being around independence in Kenya, Ghana, Nigeria, and more recently in Zimbabwe, etc., their objectives have been to train people to produce buildings that celebrate the aspirations of these independent states. The result is seen in the architecture and layout of our cities where what is perceived to be a ‘good city’ is one that is planned in a grid pattern, with streets primarily for cars, which has absolutely nothing to do with how people actually use space in the African context. 

Consider the fact that most people don’t drive. For them, to get from A to B the distance should be as short as possible. I don’t need space for four or at times six cars, I need comfortable space for people to walk. So if we start thinking about people first, the way our spaces are designed and laid out will be very different. But a lot of the current approaches to architecture and planning are car oriented despite only 5% of people using cities actually drives. 

So once we adopt this idea of planning from a physical entity, we automatically exclude people. But when you look at it from a people’s perspective, one of the things you don’t do in planning is produce a map. In South Sudan, there have been a series of proposals for Juba that are in the shape of animals. Although these may seem appropriate on a plan, this ignores the reality that these are not visible or apparent for the users as people experience urban spaces when they are within them, and not from the sky. Some schools, and mainly the newer ones, manage to break away from this paradigm. But most of them still remain in this way of thinking where man is put aside in architectural and urban designs. 

This is also the case in private schools that do not find it lucrative to detach themselves from the classical teaching methods. Personally, I believe a new direction for architecture and planning education should begin with a more holistic approach, one that compels students to appreciate specific social, cultural and environmental issues. Here education could take a leaf from landscape architecture education. 

Landscape architecture education and the profession engage with social and cultural issues in ways that architecture and planning do not. Landscape architecture asks questions, like, what is the meaning of a place? Why do people do it this way? How can we make it work? Rather than saying, well, this looks horrible, let’s just tear it down or start from scratch.

Juba city Southern Sudan, Photo source: Google earth
“We need to adapt the teaching to the local context. It may not produce the high architecture that we see in the world, but it will meet the local needs..”

I will focus on the case of Anglophone Africa, on architectural education specifically and address three aspects: how were the schools of architecture created, who teaches in them and what were their objectives? There are parallels with planning, which I will include when I can. As far as their creation is concerned, by far the majority of architecture schools came into existence just after independence (outside South Africa, these are Ahmadu Bello University, University of Nairobi and University of Khartoum). 

While the initial goal was to provide skilled labour to replace expatriate staff, the desire by the newly independent states to showcase their aspirations, and demonstrate their position internationally, it was not long before educational endeavours were steered toward fulfilling these objectives, geared toward national prestige through iconic - an ideological imperative. Now, for the teachers in these schools. Initially, it was necessary to rely on foreign staff, for a number of reasons, but primarily the schools were following an international curriculum that needed staff that could deliver it satisfactorily. 

These instructors largely came from Western Europe (generally former colonisers countries), as well as the Soviet Union, the United States and to a lesser extent India). . While this has served to allow the development of divergent currents of thought, there has been little in-depth interrogation of the appropriateness of these curricula and pedagogical approaches. The most obvious example I can cite here are many history and theory courses, which still rely heavily on a chronological approach heavily biased toward European architectural and planning endeavours. You have to ask yourself, is the knowledge content, and approaches to architecture and urbanism we teach fit for-purpose? and in many cases the answer is no. 

There is a need for us to scrutinise what we teach and how we teach it. What exactly are we doing? What is the purpose of architecture and planning education now? Do we want to produce replicas of cities and buildings in Europe and North America? Or do we want to help improve the conditions of people?The situation on the ground and the needs are completely different. 

We need to adapt the teaching to the local context. It may not produce the ‘high’ architecture, but it will meet the local needs. Uganda for example is a very hilly country. But many plans (both planning and architectural) ignore this fact. Why does this happen? In some aspects the training is not context specific; it seems to reinforce the notion that the site (and people) should adapt to suit the designs, and not the other way around. So we need to do better than that and think, how do we compel the next generation of urban planners and architects to be cognisant of and respond to the local situation, understanding that and work with it as a basis for developing appropriate spaces that work for people.

When you look at, for example, the most common building typology in Uganda today, it is the same as that designed during colonial times for single men. These «boys’ quarters» because at that time in many parts of Africa, there was a need for workers, usually young men who came to town to work, and were granted temporary residency. 

To prevent them bringing their families, they were provided with minimal accommodation with small rooms that barely accommodated one person, with shared toilet facilities, and no kitchens... 

Now more than 60 years after independence, we still build the same way. So if after all these years and all the architects and urban planners trained, why is it that there has not been any change? I believe this is because as architects and planners we have failed to impact on the general population, and continue to train subsequent generations to ignore the needs of the majority.

Uganda-Development Photo source: Wikimedio commons
“Students are unfortunately taught to prepare to make the next tallest building, rather than getting them to understand the sense of the place…”

The way architecture and urban planning training is delivered on the continent has indeed an impact on African cities. On the positive side it can create functional spaces where people have decent environments to live, work and recreate. But on the negative side, I think things are often done out of context. Take housing for example, this is often developed and planned in isolation of socio-economic realities, an approach that reduces the question of ‘low-income’ housing to the provision of the proverbial four walls and a roof. 

Consequently, we often see such housing developed far away from the centre of cities. These are a distance away from economic and employment opportunities - the reason people migrated to the cities’ areas in the first place. Oddly enough, this was a problem that was seen in the US, UK and Australia during the 1960s, so why are we building the same mistakes in 2020? 

We have to rethink our approach, taking note that some of what is still taught is obsolete, and in many cases was not actually based on the realities experienced within the context within which it is taught. Back to the housing question, the lack of housing and the burgeoning slums, squatter and informal settlements close to the city centres are a result of a larger question. It comes to human dignity and the value of humanity. By paying a salary that is barely enough to live on, workers are compelled to seek the most convenient accommodation as close to their place of work as is practically possible. 

No one wants to spend all their salary and time commuting. So as we can see, architecture and planning is not just about physical infrastructure, it is much wider. These are the links that are often not presented as part of the educational process, which often exists in silos. Many countries in Africa are characterized by their macrocephaly. 

In Uganda, for example, as soon as you leave Kampala, there is literally nothing going on in the small towns. Some time ago there was not even a supermarket outside Kampala. Everything happened in the capital. Now, with decentralization, things could be better, but it is important to provide the secondary towns and the countryside with adequate facilities and infrastructure to limit the pressure on the big urban centers and to strengthen the links between the cities and the countryside. Currently, getting a national identity card, or a driving licence requires a trip to the capital Kampala. This is not at all practical, neither is it contributing to the idea of decentralisation. 

Now, in terms of education, I prefer to use education, rather than training as I believe education is a core element of higher university education. While there are elements of training within architecture and planning education, it is important that students acknowledge that their role goes beyond merely fulfilling narrowly defined objectives of individual projects, to include an appreciation of the consequences of these actions. 

If you look at Zanzibar, the old city - Stone Town, is among the most visited places in Tanzania. This is not because it has new glass and steel clad buildings or wide multilane roads. It is because it is at a human scale in a number of ways. It is a pedestrian environment with narrow streets, but with spaces where people can sit and talk. The soul of the community keeps it alive. The street itself is a channel of information. And that information can travel long distances because every time you walk down the street, greet people, stop, talk to them they will tell you a story. So it’s strange that we assumed that cities should be so new and glitzy. And that’s what students are unfortunately taught, to prepare to make the next tallest building, rather than getting them to understand that the way people use spaces and how they engage with the environment, is what makes the difference.

Photo by Javi Lorbada on Unsplash
“Adapted curricula to build more inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities in Africa…”

The starting point would be thinking about the people, their climatic, cultural, social context, etc. If you start from the climate for example, the solution in Botswana can certainly not be the same solution that you have in Uganda or, in South Sudan, because these are very different situations and climates. We teach students about what is happening in the rest of the world, but very little about what is happening in the local areas. 

There is limited literature on the architecture of African context, so we need to write and tell the stories of and from Africa, while criticizing the things that don’t work. We are often reluctant to criticize things, just because somebody put a lot of money into it, whether it works or not. Unless we start having deep, meaningful, frank discussions about our context, we’re going to continually go down a path that doesn’t help us to build sustainably and resiliently. 

When you look at many urban centers across much of sub-Saharan Africa, we find an informal sector that is actually larger than the formal sector. The people who work in this grey economy are rarely if ever included in design discourse, effectively marginalised from what is perceived to be a desired future. Without an appreciation of their needs, this marginalization is set to continue with these issues brought into the mainstream of teaching and practice. In the university I work with in Uganda, the Uganda Martyrs University, we are taking students out of the classroom, to talk to the communities. For example right now, a student is working to understand how people live and how they engage in their daily activities. 

This bottom up approach is critical in ensuring any proposals are embedded within the community, and not cosmetic. One of the things I think is also important is to take some of the architecture schools out of the major urban areas, figuratively and practically, to get a feel for the communities and their needs. When you look at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology in Ghana, the Copperbelt University in Zambia, and the University of Science and Technology in Zimbabwe, these are all located in secondary cities, and where the first architecture schools in these three countries were situated. 

This deliberate move ensures that the link between education and the lived experiences of a large proportion of the population could be better addressed. This was also the rationale for the location of the architecture school at the Uganda Martyrs University at the university’s main campus at Nkozi.. This certainly has a big impact on the shape of the education and the students that go there. So, it’s about basic things like understanding what our needs are, beyond just shelter from the elements? How do we make our urban centers work better for people? How do we make them work better in the context? Should we continue building wider roads, yet the real need is for more and efficient public transport networks?

Uganda Martyrs University
“Make friends, talk to people who come from different backgrounds, who have different life experiences, and travel as much as possible…”

I think the very first piece of advice I would give is to be open to learning. Be open to new ideas and to constantly question preconceived ideas you may have. Beyond that, you have to understand that whatever education you get, whether it’s architecture, landscape architecture, or urban planning, it’s only education to help you start your career, it’s not the end of your education, which should continue throughout your life. 

This is what differentiates training from education. I also believe that students should try as much as possible to draw on their own experiences, and understand that their experience is just an individual experience, in the midst of millions of other people’s experiences. To be able to design for other people, it is important to understand and appreciate why we do things a particular way, and that this is not how millions of other people do it (for a host of different reasons). 

Often, I think we approach things from the perspective that our experience is the only valid one, and presume other people’s experiences and views are equal to ours. This is a consequence of the socialization process of education. For many students their experiences are narrowly defined, limiting their exposure to the diversity of experiences of others. A poingient expression of this can be found in Musa Okwonga’s memoir, ‘One of Them’. The outcomes of educational systems that derive students from a narrow group of students cannot truly address the issues of broader society. 

Indeed even today, some schools of architecture have intakes comprising students from a handful of secondary schools, it would be impossible for this group of students to appreciate the value of different opinions as they have never really been exposed to difference. And so my advice in this context is to make friends outside of that very narrow circle. Talk to people who come from different backgrounds, who have different life experiences, if possible, travel as much as possible whether it’s inside or outside your region or country. 

Many students and even professionals do not know the richness of their own country in terms of architectural and urban heritage. Knowing one’s history, heritage and environment can contribute to a better understanding of place, and space. We had great cities in Africa 300 or 400 years ago. You have Benin City in Nigeria, you have Congo City in what is now the Democratic Republic of Congo. We have Great Zimbabwe, and Bigo in Uganda ... so there are great cities that exist that we don’t hear about. Taking an interest in and learning about these early endeavours would greatly contribute to design explorations, not only in terms of form and materials, but also in terms of our ideation. Those are the key lessons I would like some people to understand.

A drawing by a British officer representing the city of Benin before its destruction by the British army in 1897, wikimedia

PHILIPPA NYAKATO TUMUBWEINEE, Architects; Senior lecturer and Head of School at Architecture Planning and Geomatics, University of Cape Town. She was awarded her PhD at the School of Higher Education Studies, University of the Free State. Tumubweinee’s commitment to architectural education has developed through her involvement as an external examiner for MProf and BHons students in Architecture at the University of Pretoria and Namibia University of Science and Technology

“School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics”

The current School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics (APG) at University of Cape Town (UCT) is the result of two mergers. The first merger took place in 1985 between the then School of Architecture and the Department of City and Regional Planning, and the second merger took place in 2002 between the School of Architecture and Planning and the Department of Geomatics. 

The School’s primary purpose is to produce professionals who can deal competently and creatively with the development and conservation of the built and natural environment by imagining alternative, more just and inclusive urban futures. 

The School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics (APG) has a current enrolment of 667 students, 227 are registered for postgraduate degrees; of these 22 students are registered for PhDs. APG offers programmes which lead to the following qualifications: Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS); Bachelor of Science in Geomatics; Bachelor of Architectural Studies (Honours); Bachelor of Science (Honours) in Geographical Information Systems; Bachelor of City Planning (Honours); Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours); Master of Architecture (Professional); Master of City and Regional Planning; Master of Landscape Architecture; Master of Urban Design; Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Conservation of the Built Environment; Master of Philosophy (MPhil) in Southern Urbanism; and Opportunities to study for research-based MPhils and Doctor of Philosophy degrees. APG is located within the Faculty of Engineering and the Built Environment (EBE). 

Professor Alison Lewis (from the Department of Chemical Engineering) was elected as the Dean of the Faculty in 2015, and she remains in the position. All Departments and Schools within EBE offer degrees accredited by professional councils/ institutes. Processes of accreditation are recognised and supported in the Faculty and the University. EBE comprises five Departments (Construction Economics and Management; Civil Engineering; Chemical Engineering; Mechanical Engineering; and Electrical Engineering) and one School (the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics). 

In accordance with 2021 data, EBE has an enrolment of 4,452 students, of whom 1,116 are registered for postgraduate qualifications and 262 are PhD students. EBE comprises 429 academic staff and 173 professional, administrative and support staff. The Faculty has 20 active research groups, 7 SARChI chairs, 58 NRF rated staff and R220 million in research income. 

The undergraduate Bachelor of Architectural Studies (BAS) Programme within the School of Architecture, Planning and Geomatics (APG) provides a foundational design-oriented education from which streaming can occur into a range of postgraduate degree programmes, including the Bachelor of Architectural Studies (Honours), the Bachelor of City Planning (Honours) (linked to the Masters of City and Regional Planning) and the Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours) (linked to the Masters of Landscape Architecture). 

These Honours level qualifications allow students to apply for the one-year Master of Urban Design (MUD) degree, a one-year MPhil specialising in the Conservation of the Built Environment and a research-based MPhil. APG also offers opportunities to register for a PhD. Furthermore, the African Centre for Cities (ACC) facilitates a coursework and dissertation MPhil on Southern Urbanism and some of these students take electives in the Planning Honours Programme. 

A planning stream was introduced into the undergraduate Geomatics Programme cluster in 2004. Several degree programmes in the School are recognised by professional Councils. The Masters of Architecture (Prof) degree is recognised by the South African Council for the Architectural Profession (SACAP). 

In addition to SACPLAN accreditation, the Planning Programme is accredited by the Royal Town Planning Institute (RTPI) ( The combined Bachelor of Landscape Architecture (Honours) and Masters of Landscape Architecture Programme is accredited by the South African Council for the Landscape Architectural Profession (SACLAP). The MPhils are non-professional and non-accredited research degrees.

“The way we educate our urban professionals on the wider continent and in South Africa is being challenged”

This is not because what we teach is not good, it is because it has become increasingly difficult, within a set and structured curriculum, to address the constantly shifting dynamic nature of the urban environments we live in. Within this changing context we, as urban professionals, find ourselves confronted with how to advance appropriate theories and practices to develop a holistic understanding of the urban environment across multiple and growing disciplines and interests. 

This difficulty is evident in the schism between what is needed and what is done. It translates as a break between how we as academic institutions develop and train the next generation of urban professionals and the realities of the multiplicity of fundamental tools and tactics that are required to develop and implement policies and governance systems that effectively deliver for people. In part the schism stems from theories and practices that are borrowed from other times, other places and other cultures. 

As institutions we repackage and retrofit these theories and practices without always addressing the underlying complexities of our urban complexities and place-based realties. This calls for a “rogue” approach in the way that we train urban professionals who can contribute meaningfully in African urban environments and respond to, address and embrace a continually shifting context. This approach to training urban professionals could develop a form of urbanism that consolidates political, social, cultural and economic capital with the natural & built environment in order to bring together a conceptualisation of place and people as part of a complex world.

“Rather than provide a clear ‘vision of African cities of tomorrow’, it is vital that academic institutions together with other urban professionals and civil society collectively experiment and speculate as to what an African city should look like…”

The African urban terrain is complex, and because it is complex questions of sustainability, resilience, and technological development in any African city can only be speculative. This provides fertile ground from which urban professionals, and the institutions in which they are trained, can explore and experiment with alternate realities and solutions to address a variety of underlying concerns. 

These include climate change and resilience, significant socio-spatial inequality and poverty (tied often to colonial spatial planning), and a significant demographic youth bulge in African cities. Rather than provide a clear ‘vision’, it is vital that academic institutions together with other urban professionals and civil society collectively experiment and speculate as to what an African city should look like. For if we cannot creatively conceive of it within the specificities and peculiarities of our context, we cannot build it. 

In APG we aim to develop urban professionals across all programmes who can radically reshape the urban environment at all levels. This extends to, but is not limited to: 1) how we can creatively plan, design and develop our cities, towns and their neighbourhoods; 2) how we can creatively integrate combined thinking across the broadest range of disciplines involved in the urban environment – physical, socio-cultural, economic, public health, food, governance etc; 3) how can we creatively lead and manage policies and planning in the system at all levels of civil society and government.

MANLIO MICHIELETTO, Dean of the School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE) at the College of Science and Technology (CST) University of Rwanda (UR ). Manlio Michieletto is an Italian Architect graduated in 2007 from the IUAV University of Venice,and earned a PhD in Architectural Composition in 2010 from the IUAV School of Doctorate. After different academic and professional experiences in Europe (Italy and Germany) and Africa (Burkina Faso andD. R. Congo), he has since 2016 became the dean of SABE.

“School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE)..”

The School of Architecture and Built Environment (SABE) started in 2009 as a faculty of architecture in the former Kigali Institute of Technology. In 2014, the government decided to unify all scattered institutes in one unique public university that is called University of Rwanda, and the Faculty of architecture became the School of Architecture and Built Environment. SABE is one of the five schools comprising the College of Science and Technology that is one of the nine colleges of the University of Rwanda. 

SABE is in a very inspiring compound designed by the French architect Patrick Schweitzer and our students have the opportunity to be trained in this amazing architectural artifact. The building’s aim is to be intended as an open book for students through the utilisation of different materials, construction techniques, details etc. 

Furthermore, it’s a passive building with no use of mechanical installation. SABE has around 1000 students and four departments (Department of Architecture, Department of construction management, Department of estate management and valuation, and the Department of geography and urban planning). These are for undergraduate programs, but we also have a post graduate program in MSc IN GEO-INFORMATION SCIENCE FOR ENVIRONMENT AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT and we are working with partners from Europe to set up a master in architecture that will start in 2023. 

These programs are supervised by around 40 staff members, including junior staff, senior staff, Professor, associate professor, senior lecturer, lecturer, assistant lecturer and tutorial assistant.

School of Architecture and Built Environment, Photo source SABE
“We have to significantly improve the offer in terms of education to give to young people the chance to study and be actors of changes in their communities and countries…”

I do think the way education in architecture and planning is made have an impact on african cities now and in the future. However, to have a positive impact, it is fundamental to establish more schools or faculties of architecture and urban studies in Africa. We can not have or continue to have countries with just one Institute or School of Architecture, urban planning, etc. 

To meet African cities’ challenges and turn them into opportunities, we must increase the education offered in Architecture, urban planning, and other urban studies not just in quantity, but also in quality. So, when we talk about the impact, we have first to significantly improve the offer in terms of education to give to young people the chance to study and be actors of changes in their communities and countries. African cities are a bit wider as a concept, so we cannot compare Ouagadougou with Lagos or Lome with Kinshasa, etc. I think for training in architecture in Africa, the undergraduate students have to be trained as any other students over the world, then, specialize themself through for example, postgraduate programs on the local context. 

At SABE, we try to introduce in the existing curricula the analysis and the study of the local context, to train students able -after an undergraduate degree, to appropriately manage a project in the local context. African cities are very different in shape, in size, etc. So, African students have to learn critical methods that enable them to have a holistic overview of the context. They have to be able to build a critical point of view, train their eyes to understand the context, identify problems and find the appropriate solutions.

“At SABE there is a constant relationship between teaching activities and local context…”

Lectures are normally based on tropical architecture and urban design, that means the architecture adapted to the local environment and context. We also teach students history of architecture and theory of architecture including the relationship between the city, and the built environment. So students move from universal theories of architecture and urban planning to theories of African cities, from tropical villages to African architecture. 

We also use resources to equip our students with theoretical and practical knowledge like books on African cities, UN-Habitat rules and principles, and the Green Council buildings rules that the Rwandan government established for the construction of green buildings in Rwanda. So, for us at SABE there is a constant relationship between teaching activities and local context. For example, in the Department of Geography, urban planning, students always have practical workshops on the local context, with the local community involved, population, local stakeholders etc. 

We also have summer workshops that are targeting real issues or challenges in kigali to not only have students adapted to the local context, but also to the local market. Furthermore, during their training, our students have to do professional internships for the fourth and fifth year. All these help them to be adapted to market needs. 

We have been asked by our university to move to a problem based learning teaching system, which means that all our modules, especially for assessment and final examination, have to be based on problem based learning or a challenge driven education. So we have the theoretical part of the module, and then a practical one based on a real problem that students may identify in their context. The students work in groups to propose a solution to a real problem, starting from problem identification to an adapted solution. 

“I see the future of African cities in the past…”

First of all, we have to be conscious of our past. The African city is rich in history and heritage that have shaped its evolution over time. This ancestral African city has always been smart and sustainable. It is therefore important to go back to this history and heritage to build the African city and not to import models from elsewhere. 

The second important thing in this context of rapid growth and urbanization is to train local actors who understand the context. It is a question of training city actors (architects, urban planners, designers, etc.) at the local level with local knowledge and know-how because they know their history, they have grown up in these cities and are the best able to understand the problems and to provide solutions. 

Another fundamental aspect to take into account for the African sustainable city is the political will. We can see that the great cities throughout the world were mostly built by political vision. Therefore, in Africa, it is important that the leaders draw a shared vision of the sustainable city and take the necessary means to achieve the objectives of the sustainable city.

“Be committed and passionate about what they are doing…”

My advice for young students is to really be committed and passionate about what they are doing, because it is the only way to achieve good results, in all aspects of their life.

MOUSSA DEMBELE, Malian Architect graduated in architecture from Xinghua University in China. He worked as an architect for 4 years in Singapore, then obtained his doctorate from the Kyoto Institute of Technology in Japan. After teaching for several years in Japan and China, he opened an architectural office in Mali before being appointed in 2015 as the General Manager of EAMAU.

“Tell us about the African School of Architecture and Urbanism…” 

The African School of Architecture and Urban Planning (EAMAU) is an inter-state institution that brings together 8 countries of the UEMOA (Benin, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Guinea Bissau, Mali, Niger, Senegal, Togo) and the 6 countries of the CEMAC (Cameroon, Central African Republic, Congo, Gabon, Equatorial Guinea, Chad). 

It was created under the will of the heads of state in order to train young people to face the urbanization of African cities in 1975. In view of the challenges facing African cities in terms of urbanization, it can be said that this vision of member states through EAMAU is more than salutary in order to meet the challenges posed by the rapid urban growth of the continent by training local actors on urban issues. 

To this end, EAMAU trains architects, urban planners, and urban managers through Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral training cycles. The training courses are both theoretical and practical and lead the learners to the professional-grade after 5 years of study. The training method equips them with tools that enable them to practice the profession in an operational manner in different African countries, particularly with field training courses throughout the training program.

African School of Architecture and Urbanism, Photo by G2L-PHOTOGRAPHY
“It is crucial to train professionals capable of facing the challenges of the continent in terms of urban development…” 

With more than 1400 high-level graduates, who continue to shape the political, economic, and cultural landscape in African countries, EAMAU is an institution that is constantly adapting to best meet the challenges of the continent. Indeed, we have moved from the great canons of education in architecture and urban planning to the Bachelor’s Degree Master’s Doctorate (LMD) system in 2010. 

In addition, the diplomas of EAMAU have been accredited by the African and Malagasy Council for Education (CAMES), and our institution has been for the occasion retained as a reference school for the training of architects and urbanists. It is, therefore, necessary to adapt constantly to produce professionals capable of facing the challenges of the continent in terms of urban development. 

As we can see, the continent is experiencing rapid urban growth, and many factors are influencing this growth, so it must be directed and controlled so that cities are spaces of well-being, inclusion, social peace, economic prosperity, and offer a healthy and preserved living environment. This is why we put a particular emphasis on providing our learners with key and contextual tools through our training to achieve these objectives.

“Train professionals able to respond to global issues…”

EAMAU today has a scope that extends beyond the member countries by training actors from the whole continent and the rest of the world. This is how we keep an open mind on the world, by adapting and innovating, to train professionals able to respond to global issues related to digital development, climate issues, environmental protection, etc. However, we make it a point to ensure that our students have this understanding, the very expression and specificity of Africa in the training. 

It is in this context that our students do fieldwork each year to diagnose problems in African cities, and these problems are transcribed into concrete and local solutions through projects. Thus, the projects proposed by the students are the result of a concrete and pragmatic approach to research in order to respond specifically to the challenges of African cities. The teaching methods within our institution converge towards excellence through the international character of the students, the transversality of the teachings, and the projects that are developed by the learners. 

This is so that the school is at the service of the States for the development of our countries. It is in this context that we develop training that can lead to projects that will allow States to modernize their development and economic take-off. We have introduced in this context a very important phase which is research. 

Today no institution, no field can develop without research and in our context this research component allows us to address in-depth the issue of African architectural and urban heritage. Africa is endowed with an immense heritage that can be considered open-air museums. The question is what can we draw from this heritage to build more sustainable and resilient cities? 

It is with a view to answering these questions that we are developing the research aspect in order to effectively produce reflections that contribute to setting up human settlements adapted to the African context. For the history of cities and civilizations millennia African abounds in examples in terms of sustainability, and resilience through the use of local materials, functional organization of spaces, waste management, environmental preservation, etc. The approach here is through research to draw from this rich heritage to develop modern solutions adapted to the social, cultural, economic, and geographical context of our cities.

“Students and young professionals across the continent have the mission of build more sustainable and resilient cities in Africa…”

We think that the objective for graduates should not only be to work in architecture or urban planning agencies, but to get involved in the high levels of administration, banking institutions, international organizations because they have the resources to do so. It is for them to be a force of proposal, not to evolve in a vacuum, to inform themselves, to travel to build more sustainable and resilient cities in Africa.

bottom of page