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Going green

16 Jun 2023

In this article, we will explore inspiring examples of green or sustainable architecture in Africa, highlighting the incredible structures that are making a positive impact on the environment and communities.

Sustainable architecture is revolutionizing the construction industry in Africa, paving the way for a greener and more environmentally conscious future. 

With a focus on innovative design and eco-friendly practices, the continent is witnessing the emergence of remarkable sustainable buildings that showcase Africa's commitment to sustainability. 

In this article, we will explore inspiring examples of sustainable architecture in Africa, highlighting the incredible structures that are making a positive impact on the environment and communities.

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa: A Cultural Icon in Cape Town

Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa

The Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa (MOCAA) in Cape Town, South Africa, is a beacon of artistic expression and architectural brilliance. Housed within the historic Grain Silo complex at the V&A Waterfront, this groundbreaking museum has transformed the city's cultural landscape and become a symbol of Africa's vibrant contemporary art scene.

Designed by renowned British architect Thomas Heatherwick, the Zeitz MOCAA building is a testament to innovative design and repurposing of existing structures. Heatherwick and his team ingeniously transformed the disused grain silo into a striking architectural masterpiece, preserving its industrial heritage while creating a state-of-the-art museum.

The centerpiece of the museum is the awe-inspiring atrium, aptly named the "Cathedral." This dramatic space features a series of carved-out tubes that rise up through the building, creating a sense of grandeur and interplay of light and shadow.

The Cathedral serves as the museum's central gathering point and provides a captivating entrance experience for visitors.

The Zeitz MOCAA not only showcases exceptional contemporary African art but also promotes sustainable practices. The building's design incorporates numerous sustainable features, including a cutting-edge ventilation system that utilizes natural airflows and reduces the need for mechanical cooling.

Energy-efficient lighting and water-saving fixtures further contribute to the museum's eco-conscious approach.

With its visionary architecture and dedication to African art, the Zeitz Museum of Contemporary Art Africa stands as a testament to the power of creativity, cultural expression, and sustainable design. It serves as a bridge between past and present, celebrating Africa's artistic heritage while nurturing the voices and visions of today's artists.

UWCEA Boarding House in Arusha: Sustainable Living by Triple A Architects

UWCEA Boarding House

Triple A Architects, renowned for their commitment to sustainable design, has made its mark on Tanzania with the remarkable UWCEA Boarding House in Arusha.

The UWCEA Boarding House is a unique and iconic series of buildings that not only enhance the cultural experience for incoming international students but also exemplify sustainable design principles.

Developed as part of the newly accredited UWCEA program, the project aimed to expand the school's existing campus facilities to include boarding housing, staff housing, an examination hall, science laboratories, and a canteen.

The architectural design drew inspiration from Maasai boma principles, creating a circular enclosure of sleeping quarters centered around a pavilion. This design not only embraced cultural heritage but also fostered a sense of community among the students.

An essential aspect of the UWCEA Boarding House is its commitment to sustainability. The dorm units incorporate numerous green principles, including rainwater harvesting systems that collect water from the roofs of the dorms and pavilions.

This harvested water serves various purposes, such as irrigation and flushing toilets, promoting water conservation, and reducing the dependence on traditional water sources. Additionally, solar heaters are installed to provide hot water, utilizing renewable energy and minimizing the carbon footprint of the boarding house.

To combat the African heat and ensure comfortable living conditions, the dormitories were strategically designed with openings that allow for natural ventilation. This design feature maximizes airflow, reduces the need for artificial cooling, and promotes energy efficiency.


Moreover, the incorporation of recycled plastic furnishings not only adds a touch of creativity to the dormitories but also educates students about the importance of upcycling and recycling.

The architectural approach of the UWCEA Boarding House aligns with the school's ethos and vision. It aimed to create a low-cost and energy-efficient series of buildings that serve as a supportive learning environment while showcasing innovative and intelligent functionality.


The circular enclosure design, reminiscent of the Maasai boma, reflects the belief of UWC in bringing together students from diverse backgrounds based on their shared humanity.

Furthermore, the UWCEA Boarding House serves as a beacon of sustainable building development in low-tech environments. It showcases the use of simple and traditional building materials and methods while incorporating contemporary architectural language.

The integration of recycled glass bottle walls in the bathrooms and toilets adds both aesthetic appeal and a practical demonstration of resourcefulness.

The UWCEA Boarding House has garnered international recognition for its exceptional design and sustainable features. Voted as the best boarding house among all 18 UWC schools on four different continents, it stands as a testament to the successful integration of cultural heritage, sustainability, and educational excellence.

The Bosco Verticale (Vertical Forest): A Green Oasis in Milan

Bosco Verticale

Although not located in Africa, the Bosco Verticale serves as an inspiration for sustainable architecture in the continent. The Bosco Verticale, also known as the Vertical Forest, is an architectural marvel located in Milan, Italy. Designed by Italian architect Stefano Boeri, this innovative residential complex has redefined the concept of urban greenery and sustainable living.

The Vertical Forest comprises two towers, soaring above the Milanese skyline, adorned with a breathtaking array of trees and plants. The idea behind this visionary project was to integrate nature into urban environments, bringing greenery and biodiversity back to the city.

One of the key objectives of the Bosco Verticale is to combat air pollution and reduce the carbon footprint. The towers host more than 900 trees and over 20,000 shrubs and plants, creating a thriving vertical forest that acts as a natural air purifier. The plants absorb carbon dioxide, produce oxygen, and filter pollutants, contributing to cleaner and healthier air in the city.

The selection of plant species was meticulously done to ensure biodiversity and ecological balance. The variety of trees and plants creates a microcosm of natural habitats, attracting birds, insects, and other wildlife. 

This unique urban ecosystem fosters a sense of harmony between humans and nature, promoting a sustainable and balanced coexistence.

The Bosco Verticale stands as a symbol of sustainable architecture and a testament to the harmonious coexistence of humans and nature. It has transformed the Milanese skyline, offering a glimpse into a greener and more sustainable future for urban living. 

The Vertical Forest is not just a building; it is a living testament to the power of architecture to shape a more sustainable and environmentally conscious world.

The Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge in Botswana

Situated in the heart of the Okavango Delta, the Sandibe Lodge showcases sustainable luxury in a pristine natural environment. The lodge was built using locally sourced materials and employs various sustainable practices.


Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge
Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge

It operates on solar power, utilizes rainwater harvesting and filtration systems, and incorporates passive design strategies for natural ventilation. The lodge also actively supports local communities through job creation and cultural preservation.

The Sandibe Okavango Safari Lodge stands as a testament to the harmony between luxury hospitality and sustainable practices. It showcases how a world-class lodge can coexist with nature, enriching the guest experience while preserving the pristine beauty of the Okavango Delta. 

By blending architectural excellence, environmental stewardship, and immersive safari adventures, the Sandibe Lodge offers a truly unique and unforgettable journey into the heart of Africa's wilderness.


Africa is embracing sustainable architecture as a powerful tool for environmental conservation, social development, and economic growth. 

The examples highlighted in this article demonstrate the continent's commitment to sustainable design principles and its ability to create innovative structures that blend harmoniously with the environment. 

By continuing to prioritize sustainability in construction practices, Africa can lead the way towards a greener and more sustainable future.

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