The Wow Factor: 10 Stunning Architectural Marvels in Africa You Don’t Want to Miss

March 18, 2020

Africa is known for its wildlife, people, and for the way that old and new cultures interact and combine in a unique environment. The developing social, business, and architectural spheres are part of this uniqueness.

These 10 architectural landmarks are marvels of Africa’s urban centers and reflections of Africa’s history that could justify a trip all on their own.

88 on Field

88 on Field has been enhancing Durban’s skyline in KwaZulu-Natal, South Africa since its construction in 1985. The angled glass construction of its 26-floor façade makes it one of the most stunning industrial buildings in South Africa.

For simple, drive-by city viewing, 88 on Field can’t be missed. It sticks out of Durban like a gem in the sand and is easily one of the most stunning modern architecture pieces on display in the region.


Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

The Zeitz Museum houses the largest collection of contemporary African art anywhere in the world. To house it, the architects at Heatherwick Studio converted an old Grain Silo at the location to make use of its huge interior spaces and carve them into galleries.

Strengthened glass at the top of concrete shafts allows light to enter the large interior and illuminate the artwork in a style similar to that of a cathedral’s sanctuary.


The Big Pineapple

The Big Pineapple is a landmark located in Bathurst, South Africa that is as quirky as it sounds. It’s the largest pineapple-shaped building in the world, designed as a historical museum and gift shop for the region’s legendary pineapple production.

This tribute to the family-run produce farms in the region can be visited daily and perused not only for its unique, vibrant look in the middle of pineapple farm country but also for its pineapple products and souvenirs.


Bosjes Chapel

Certainly one of the most recognizable architectural landmarks in Africa, the Bosjes Chapel has been exciting architecture buffs since its completion in 2016.

Its completely unique fluid shell design sits on a reflecting pond in the middle of a vineyard in South Africa. This chapel is open to the public to reflect using the structure as a focal point of meditation and prayer.

Its shape mimics the mountains and the waters of the region. The surrounding pomegranate orchards provide a flat and serene setting for any visitor.


11 Diagonal Street

The skyscraper at 11 Diagonal Street in Johannesburg, South Africa was designed in 1983. Its glass façade was built to have a gem-like appearance, giving the building its local nickname, the Diamond Building.


Alice Lane Towers

The Alice Lane Towers in Johannesburg are two towers built from stunning glass and aluminum as a testament to the teamwork and innovation of Johannesburg businesses during their worst recession in the city’s history, during which the towers were built.


Corinthia Hotel Khartoum

This high-end hotel sits in Khartoum, the capital of Sudan, in its busy commercial districts next to the Tuti Bridge. It is located where the Blue and White Niles meet and has 173 rooms and 57 suites.

It is a fully-fledged luxury hotel with several restaurants, cafés, and a full spa. Its unique curved exterior and the nature of its Libyan funding at the time of construction have given it the colloquial name, Gaddafi’s Egg.


Bete Giyorgis

Lalibela in Ethiopia is a region rich in historical architecture, famous for churches carved from the red volcanic rock.

The Bete Giyorgis was built in the 12th century and stands as the most famous (and last) of the 11 churches that were built in this area for the king of Ethiopia. These stone-carven religious sites are designed to mimic the architecture of Jerusalem.


Desert Breeze Hotel

The desert view of this Swakopmund accommodation comes with spacious, rustic rooms right on the Namib Desert.

Wood-burning fireplaces, open-plan bungalows, and the gorgeous decks offer unique accommodations for anyone visiting Swakopmund.


Great Mosque of Djenne

This mosque in Mali is the largest earth-brick building in the world. On the flood planes of the Bani River, this mosque dates back to the 13th century. It is renovated by the city every year, retextured and repaired to keep it standing in working order as one of Africa’s most famous landmarks.


The Takeaway

Many of Africa’s stunning architectural achievements can be toured by anyone, including the quirky Big Pineapple in South Africa and the beautiful Bosjes Chapel.

You don’t want to miss these incredible buildings on any trip to the continent.


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Tatjana Faplo
I am a professional writer and editor with a rich history of writing experiences. In the past, I've worked for glossy magazines, branding agencies, creative institutions, architectural and design firms, nonprofit organizations, small businesses, and health foundations.

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