It all started when architect Jon (Twingi) Sojkowski from South Carolina (USA) travelled to Zambia as a Peace Corps volunteer in 1998. Sojkowski was intrigued by the vernacular architecture he came across and started to document it. Now there is African Vernacular Architecture, a website containing a database with pictures and information on African traditional architecture to which everyone is invited to submit images.
‘Vernacular architecture in Africa is disappearing, being abandoned for western materials and techniques’, Sojkowski says. ‘Architecture is a major component of a country’s culture and the unfortunate fact is that there is very little information available online for people to understand the beauty, importance and relevance of African vernacular architecture.’
In 2014 Sojkowski conducted research in both Malawi and Zambia, documenting vernacular structures. Now African Vernacular Architecture serves as an umbrella page for all the work he has been doing so far. By opening the database to submissions from others, Sojkowski hopes to build a database with images from every African country. ‘Full credit is given for every image submitted’, he adds.
Top image: House of the head patron of one of the big families of Niongono village, Mali (photo Daniel Schumann)