Our top picks for the 2017 Africa Architecture Awards

The shortlist of nominees is out and here are the projects we think could have the most impact.

The Africa Architecture Awards is an annual ceremony that seeks to celebrate design excellence and promote an increased awareness of the role and importance of architecture across Africa. Looking to honour established architects and encourage emerging and future voices, the awards also speak to a larger purpose of facilitating conversations, connections and collaborative possibilities for architects across the continent.

The ceremony is to be held on September 28, but you can have a look at some our favorite nominees from the shortlist of 21 in the meantime.

Umkhumbane Museum, South Africa by Choromanski Architects

Umkhumbane Museum

Located in Durban’s Cato Manor – a once vibrant community that later became one of the world’s largest sites of forced removal – the uMkhumbane Museum was developed for the preservation of the area’s rich cultural and political history. As part of a broader aim to stimulate innovation, the site will be also be used as a space to stimulate community involvement. Using the idea of communal space to connect diverse peoples, the museum features a cultural park and public square, galleries for permanent and temporary collections, dedicated space for community exhibitions, gathering areas for oral, performance, installation exhibits, and children’s innovative facilities.

New Sight Eye Hospital, The Democratic Republic of Congo by Boogertman + Partners

New Sight Eye Hospital

Delivering comprehensive non-profit eye services, the speculative New Sight Eye Hospital in the Republic of Congo is located in Ouesso and would provide services to the surrounding areas. It’s a particularly necessary addition to the region, in which 4 out of 5 people are blind or visually impaired. Focused on phenomenological principles that address sensory experience, the design of the building aids its users – who have impaired eyesight – by providing architectural elements that foster comfort though indirect light, ventilated courtyards and local building materiality - like timber and Congolese patterned bricks.

Kigali Genocide Memorial - African Center for Peace, Rwanda by MASS Design Group

Kigali Genocide Memorial - African Center for Peace

In this speculative expansion of the Kigali Genocide Memorial in Rwanda, the new Genocide Archive of Rwanda – a key part of an international commitment to prevent mass atrocities and creating a world without genocide – would form the building’s metaphorical centrepiece. Pillars and other spaces for reflection, education, exhibition and learning will symbolize the diversity of stories from which the building is symbolically formed. The resulting space is a forest, a gallery, a memory bank, and a library, while at night, the pillars transform into beacons of light, symbolizing the bright future of Rwanda that lies ahead.

One Airport Square, Ghana by MCA Architects

One Airport Square

The first building in West Africa to obtain a 4-star energy performance certificate from the Green Building Council of South Africa (GBCSA), One Airport Square is a nine-storey building for offices, plus a ground floor designed for commercial activities, at a total of about 17,000 square meters. Its aesthetic elements and architectural design are inspired by the traditional local art and by the bark of the palm trees typical of that area. With more economic growth expected in Ghana and West Africa, One Airport Square stands as an immensely valuable investment in the region.

Dakar Congress Center, Senegal by Tabanlıoğlu Architects

Dakar Congress Center

First opened on November 2014, for the 15th Francophone Assembly, the reimagining of the Dakar Congress Center was inspired by the region’s geography and natural values – including the Baobab trees of Senegal. Like being sheltered by an ancient monumental tree, the one-piece roof of the project encases the building stacks, and guards each construction - dedicated to a special function - against weather conditions like direct sunbeams and wind. The building’s elegant veil visually merges to the surrounding water and creates eternal reflections over the water. Aligning with its function as a meeting place for presidents, the building is strong and symbolizes modernity; simple but functional.

To have a look at the full list of nominees visit the Africa Architecture Awards website.

More on African Design