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Architecture: a lever to build better cities in Africa

As part of the Venice Architecture Biennale 2014, Lafarge is partnering the "Young Architects in Africa" awards. The aim is to promote African architecture that is simple, durable and in touch with people, at a time when the continent is experiencing the fastest urbanization in the world.

Renaissance of African architecture

With an urban population set to more than triple in the next 40 years, the growth of African cities presents an unprecedented challenge in terms of architecture. However the continent lacks architecture schools, with fewer than three architects per hundred thousand inhabitants on average compared with fifty per hundred thousand in Europe!

We are seeing fairly informal urbanization, with a proliferation of "small houses constantly springing up," explains Martin Robain, founder architect of the firm AS. Architecture-Studio, organizer of the “Young Architects in Africa” competition.
"However a greater awareness is emerging of aligning cities with regional needs. Building a home in Africa is a matter of existence – having a home means survival. And it has to be done with little resources. Solutions are by necessity economical and durable".
These factors have been addressed in the project submitted by the winners of the competition, along with the essential human element. "The relationship with other people is reflected in the need to connect – you build with your neighbor, your family, you build places to meet, clinics, schools, etc.”

Young Architects in Africa 2014, competition

  • Organized by the French Architecture Agency AS. Architecture-Studio's
  • 194 projects received, representing 26 African countries
  • Objective: highlighting the creativity of new African constructions, and guiding them towards international recognition


Innovating, hand in hand with African architects

Having worked in Africa for many years, Lafarge’s ambition is to offer solutions tailored to African construction challenges. The central focus of its commitment involves working with African architects to jointly develop construction systems enabling Africa to build better cities.

  • In Nigeria, we have launched a microcredit program in the framework of a partnership with the French Development Agency because “self-build is a massive phenomenon and the need for support is enormous,” notes François Perrot, head of the Affordable Housing initiative. "We therefore put microcredit borrowers in touch with technical advisors, generally newly graduated young civil engineers or architects, to help them finalize their projects.”


  • In Malawi, development of the Durabric binder – a simple, reliable and economical solution – offers an alternative to bricks, whose firing requires significant consumption of wood. Mixed with earth, it produces blocks which set without firing and improves constructions’ durability.

  • In Cameroon and Kenya, Lafarge supports social landlords to help them choose methods more suited to the African context.

To be relevant, Lafarge must be involved in projects at a very early stage, from the design phase, insists François Perrot. We need architects bold enough to innovate with us!".


FAQ 1 : The 3 laureates Projects

  • The « Community Spine » of the Namibian Wasserfall Munting Architect Agency: wooden wall with the appearance of a screen, designed to protect the village from traffic while providing a backdrop for traders’ business.


  • The SEED Library from the South African Agency Architects of Justice: a colored and modular space created using shipping containers.


  • The « Red Pepper House », of the Kenyan Agency Urko Sanchez Architect: a dragon-like home set in the forest, chalked out between the trees.

See also about Lafarge in Africa

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