The Inventive Mosques Adding Tremendous Value In Africa

Sub-Saharan Africa is home to a huge number of religious devotees, with a wide range of religious expression. Throughout the continent, iconic religious structures can be found, such as the Cathedral Basilica of the Holy Family in central Nairobi or the Hare Krishna Temple in South Africa. What is clear is that religious architecture is an important element of the urban fabric of Sub-Saharan African cities, and that religious constructions frequently go against the grain, abandoning or altering classical principles in favour of a distinctive architectural style.

Design, Minarets And Intricate Features On Display

Great Mosque of Djenné - Wikipedia

Looking at the typology of mosques in Sub-Saharan Africa is the clearest example of this. Religious duties – such as the call to prayer – were given architectural expression in the shape of interventions such as the Minaret as soon as the religion was created in the 7th century. Because of this tight link between purpose and design, mosques have a very similar design in many regions, influenced by Roman, Byzantine, Persian, and Mesopotamian architecture. Many modern mosques in Sub-Saharan Africa follow the Middle Eastern paradigm, but the presence of mosques that do not follow that model needs an expansion of what the name “mosque” means.


The HIKMA Religious and Secular Complex in the Nigerien village of Dandaji, created by atelier masm, is an excellent example. Rather than merely importing a Middle-Eastern mosque model, which would entail the use of unsustainable materials in the Nigerien environment, the concept incorporates locally made compressed earth bricks that require little upkeep. The mosque may not be considered a classic example of “Islamic Construction” because of its lack of adornment in comparison to its Gulf State contemporaries, but it does show the hazy nature of religious architecture.

The Middle East, Soudanese Architecture And Other Key Elements

Wow! These 6 Sudano-Sahelian Mosques in Africa Are Astonishing! - Mvslim

Perhaps the best example of a widely accepted sub-Saharan mosque typology is the ‘Soudanese’ mosque style, which is native to Western Sudan. Clay and organic forms are a fundamental component of these mosques, which stretch from the River Senegal to Ghana and the Ivory Coast. While domes are a crucial part in Islamic architecture inspired by Middle Eastern forms, the materiality of these clay mosques means flat roofs are a better alternative, with undecorated interiors in contrast to the patterned interiors of mosques like Istanbul’s Sultan Ahmed Mosque.


Written By Ankit Lad | Subscribe To Our Telegram Channel To Get Latest Updates And Don’t Forget To Follow Our Social Media Handles Facebook Instagram LinkedIn Twitter. To Get the Latest Updates From Arco Unico

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