In the 1960s and 1970s, nearly 50 African countries emerged from colonial rule to become independent nations. It was a time of exuberance and optimism, and this was reflected in the architecture built across the continent, which quickly cast off colonial styles in favor of monumental modernist structures. From Ghana to Kenya, Ethiopia to Zambia, bold new parliament buildings, idiosyncratic university campuses, striking company headquarters, and vast stadiums were built to reflect the outsize political ambitions of the young states. The Swiss architect Manuel Herz has spent the last few years documenting the experimental styles of the continent's revolutionary but little-known "architecture of independence."
Herz's project, which includes photos of more than 80 African buildings, is now on display at the Vitra Design Museum in Weil am Rhein, Germany. The exhibition features such gems as pyramid-like structures in Senegal, cylindrical pink towers and UFO-shaped nightclubs in Kenya, along with cascading concrete terraces in Zambia and Toblerone-reminiscent pavilions in Ghana.
"When we think of the futuristic architecture of the 1960s, we think of Oscar Niemeyer first – but a lot of these buildings are so much better," Herz told the Guardian. Photos, below: