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Building Africa: An exhibition about how architecture shapes politics 11 January – 16 March 2024

Building Africa explores the relationship between architecture and politics. It tells stories about presidential palaces, courts, parliaments, a school, a sports stadium, airports and the African Union building itself and explains how they build political institutions and identities around the continent.


The exhibition is based on findings from a five-year research project at SOAS, which has been interpreted by design-teams from Ethiopia, South Africa and Ghana, each one producing an installation that explores local responses to the buildings. These installations were originally exhibited in Addis Ababa, Johannesburg and Accra. They come together now to show how complex and often fraught political ideas are played out through architecture and popular responses to it.


Dates and opening hours

11 January – 16 March 2024

10.30am-5.00pm, Tuesday-Saturday

Late opening until 8.00pm on Thursdays


Brunei Gallery, Thornhaugh Street, Russell Square, London WC1B 5DQ




Exhibition events


Alongside the exhibition we are running a series of public talks on topics on Politics and Architecture in Africa. They are all in the Brunei Gallery at SOAS.


Events are all free but you need to register for the talks (see links below).


25 Jan              Nora Naji ‘Out of Africa: built-in security for outsiders on Lamu Island’, 17.00-19.00,                             Room B103, Brunei Gallery, SOAS. Read more. Registration


8 Feb               Tomà Berlanda ‘The languages of contemporary architecture in Sub-Saharan

                         Africa: 1960-2020’. 17.00-19.00, Room B103, Brunei Gallery, SOAS. Registration


15 Feb             Brook Hailieselassie ‘Aesthetics of prosperity: the megaprojects of Addis Ababa'                                 17.00-19.00, Room B103,Brunei Gallery, SOAS.  Registration


22 Feb             Julia Gallagher ‘Building-States: political authority and architecture in Africa’.

                         17.00-19.00, Room B103, Brunei Gallery, SOAS. Registration


29 Feb             Laura Routley 'The architecture of colonial imprisonment: the afterlives of colonial

                        incarceration in Africa’, 17.00-19.00, Room B103, Brunei Gallery, SOAS. Registration


7 Mar              Innocent Batsani-Ncube ‘Not soft, not sharp’: the subtext of China’s subtle power                               through and in African parliament buildings’, Room B103, 17.00-19.00, Brunei Gallery,                         SOAS. Registration.


8 Mar              Nahom Teklu, Khensani Jurczok-de Klerk, Aude Tollo, Augustine Owusu-Ansah, Lois                           Quartey, Kuukuwa Manful and Julia Gallagher ‘Academics and architects creating                               knowledge together: Building Africa’s curators and designers roundtable’. Brunei                                 Gallery, SOAS. Registration


12 Mar            Kuukuwa Manful, 'Building the nation and constructing class: the architecture of

                        education in Ghana’, Registration

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