Building Africa

Key information

10:30 am to 5:00 pm
Brunei Gallery, SOAS
Brunei Gallery exhibition space
Event type

About this event

SOAS’s Brunei Gallery is delighted to announce the unveiling of Building Africa, a ground-breaking exhibition that explores the relationship between architecture and politics. 

Curated by Prof Julia Gallagher and Dr Kuukuwa Manful, this collaborative exhibition showcases insights gleaned from a 5-year research initiative at SOAS, brought to life by design teams from Ethiopia, South Africa, and Ghana.

An architect setting up an exhibition in a gallery
Aude Tollo from the Matri-Archi(tecture) Collective setting up the Johannesburg exhibition

Exhibition Overview

"Building Africa" tells compelling stories about political institutions and identities across the continent, using architectural landmarks such as presidential palaces, courts, parliaments, schools, sports stadiums, airports, and the African Union building. The exhibition underscores how these structures play a pivotal 
role in shaping political landscapes.

Local Perspectives

Design teams from Ethiopia, South Africa, and Ghana have crafted installations that initially debuted in Addis Ababa, Johannesburg, and Accra. These installations provide a lens into local responses to iconic buildings, highlighting the nuanced interplay between architectural concepts and public sentiment.

Exhibition Highlights

South Africa

Matri-Archi(tecture) collective members Khensani Jurczok-de Klerk, Tapiwa Manase, Tshegofatso Mako, and Aude Tollo use models of the Union Buildings and Constititional Court that juxtapose public and official perceptions of the state.


Augustine Owusu-Ansah and Lois Quartey present the 'Ananse Playhouse,' a spider-web-inspired structure that delves into the narratives behind national buildings, from presidential palaces to government schools.


Nahom Teklu employs augmented reality to tell tales of buildings across the continent, housed within a 'movable urban architecture' named Tilla (ጥላ).

Research Overview 

The exhibition stems from the African State Architecture project at SOAS University of London, mapping political institutions and identities in eight African countries through the exploration of iconic buildings. Funded by the European Research Council (ERC), the project is part of the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation program.


Building Africa is curated by Julia Gallagher, Professor of African Politics at SOAS and Dr Kuukuwa Manful, Assistant Professor of Architecture at the Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning, University of Michigan. Exhibition design by Kuukuwa Manful, graphic design by Annertey – David Abbey-Thompson and the documentary editor is Sunil Pun.