Sudan’s architecture is as diverse as the fusion of cultures and histories that make up modern-day Sudan. Examples of eras, peoples, and aspirations that left their mark and still do so in Greater Khartoum alone are present. Historic structures from Sudan’s modern history can be found all over the nation. These include civic and household structures with European colonial influences, military and religious structures from the brief Mahdiyya period, and some older structures from the Turkish Ottoman period, the most notable of which are in the now-abandoned Red Sea port city of Suakin. The regional architecture varied from town to town. Still, it was primarily made up of rectilinear buildings made of mud bricks with flat roofs (or, in some regions of the south and east and west, compounds of circular buildings with pitched roofs).
In the 20th century, and particularly in the years leading up to independence in 1956, modernism was introduced to the nation. Although cinemas with sweeping curves and projecting fins were early examples of modernism, or art deco, the architect and scholar, Omer Siddig Osman identified three key sources of modernism.
High yields from cotton exports at the beginning of the 1950s helped the state budget, which allowed for massive building projects for public facilities like hospitals and schools. The American Aid programs implemented later in the 1950s contributed further to the building regime where the participating architects used the Modern Movement design principles. The establishment of the architecture department at the University of Khartoum arguably had the most significant impact on Modernism’s ability to become ingrained in Sudanese architecture of the Twentieth Century. The department, under the direction of Professor Alex Potter, began by introducing Modernism to its students.
As evidenced by the numerous villas in Khartoum with flat roofs, cubist geometry, and concrete brise soleil, modernism persisted for many years, even in domestic architecture.
South Sudan separated from Sudan and became an independent country in July 2011. For the citizens of the two countries, this split was violent. The dynamic changes that followed the division of the two Sudan have had an impact on the lives of people from both the north and the south, as well as on those who are categorised as “Jenubeen” (Southern or South Sudanese2) in the north and “Shagreen” (Northern) in South Sudan. Northerners have lost their South Sudanese citizenship rights due to political developments in the two countries and the adoption of new citizenship laws3, while Southerners have become foreigners in Sudan. The political shifts have significantly affected the two countries’ identity claims as well as social, political, and economic reconfigurations. Despite the large-scale population movements that followed—those who are regarded as Southern Sudanese moving to South Sudan, and those who are regarded as “Northerners” moving to Sudan—and in the wake of the ongoing civil conflict in South Sudan (which has been going on since 2013), an increasing number of South Sudanese have either remained or have been displaced in Sudan. The population composition changes and the new political and economic agreements between Sudan and South Sudan have directly influenced the multifaceted changes that have occurred in Sudan in general and in Khartoum in particular.
Below are ten buildings that showcase the diverse architecture of both Sudan in terms of building forms, materials, and construction techniques.
1. The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery Sudan
The Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery consists of a hospital with 63 beds and 300 local employees, as well as a separate Medical Staff Accommodation Compound with 150 beds. The two main buildings are arranged around sizable courtyards, and the centre is constructed as a pavilion in a garden. Three operating rooms ideally situated in the diagnostics laboratories and ward are among the complex functions in the hospital block, which is of the highest technical standard. All spaces can feel cosy and private while still being secure thanks to ventilation methods and natural light. The architects were motivated to repurpose the abandoned shipping containers used to transport building supplies for the Salam Centre for Cardiac Surgery to house the centre’s staff after seeing them. The housing complex comprises 90 20-foot containers, with each unit having a bathroom and a small veranda overlooking the garden. A cafeteria and services are housed in seven 40-foot containers. A ventilated metal roof, bamboo blinds, and 5-centimetre internal insulation panels form the onion-like core of the insulation system. A solar farm runs the water heating system.
2. Al-Nilein Mosque Sudan
The Al-Nilein Mosque looks westward onto the White Nile, near the meeting of the two Niles. Gamar Eldowla Abdelgadir, a mid-1970s architecture student at the University of Khartoum, completed it as his capstone project.
The three parts of the project are the mosque, the library, and the area for group activities. The main building’s geodesic dome, shaped like a giant shell, protects a sizable room devoid of columns, where the curved ceiling continuously connects the walls.
Even though the idea of a mosque having a coconut macaroon-like shape offends the strictest Muslims, it is true. However, it is an absolute masterpiece from an architectural standpoint.
3. Pyramids of Meroë, Sudan – 300BC Sudan
The Pyramids of Meroë are situated in Meroe, in the Nile Valley, about 200 kilometres (125 miles) from Sudan’s capital, Khartoum, and are step-sided pyramids that date back to 3000 BC. The ruins of palaces, temples and royal baths were found during excavations at this UNESCO World Heritage Site, which once served as the centre of the ancient Kushite Empire. Sandstone blocks were used to construct the burial site’s pyramids, and their interiors have been intricately carved with reliefs.
4. Pyramid Continental Hotel South Sudan
The Pyramid Continental Hotel is the most sought-after five-star hotel in South Sudan, distinguished by unforgettable experiences, spacious rooms, exceptional dining, and breathtaking views of Juba City and the White Nile River.
5. Administration Block University of Juba South Sudan
In response to the demand for higher education in Southern Sudan, the University of Juba (Arabic) was established in 1975 and is a public university in Juba, South Sudan. The university moved to Khartoum because of the Second Sudanese Civil War (1983–2005), which put staff, students, and infrastructure at risk. The university was to be renamed Juba National University in 2006, and the government at the time approved the change. South Sudan gained independence in July 2011, and the university returned to Juba, where it was initially established. The university offers English-language instruction.
6. The Sudan National Museum of African Art Sudan
The Sudan National Museum of African Art, also known as the National Museum of Sudan or Sudan National Museum of African Art, or simply SNM, is a double-story building built in 1955 that was converted into an African art museum in 1971. The building and the gardens are home to the world’s largest and most complete collection of Nubian artefacts, which includes items dating from the Paleolithic to the Islamic era and coming from all of Sudan’s significant sites. The Paleolithic, Mesolithic, Neolithic, A-Group, C-Group, Kerma, Middle Kingdom of Egypt, New Kingdom of Egypt, Napata, Mero, X-Group, and medieval Makuria cultures are all represented in collections at the National Museum of Sudan. In Khartoum’s Al-Mugran neighbourhood, close to where the White and Blue Niles converge, the African Art Museum is situated on El Neel (Nile) Avenue.
7. Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa Building in Khartoum Sudan
The Arab Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) was established under the resolution of the 6th Arab Summit Conference at Algiers (28th November 1973). The Bank began operations in March 1975.
8. Mahjoub Residence Sudan
The African Property Awards’ Best Architecture Multi-Residence Building in Africa for 2013–2014 winner is renowned for its distinctive use of non–local materials and cutting-edge design.
9. University of Khartoum Main Library Sudan
The building was finished in 1988, and its façade features exquisitely crafted Arches and shaded arcades, which were used as a local environmental solution to generate air movement and shade for the building.
10. Presidential Palace Sudan
The fact that a colonial architectural scene made of load-bearing mud walls is still standing after more than a century is an outstanding demonstration of the quality of local materials.
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Pyramid Continental Hotel Juba: Home [online] Available at: https://www.pyramidcontinentalhotel.com [Accessed date: 03 December 2022].
University of Juba: About Us [online] Available at:https://uoj.edu.ss/about-us/ [Accessed date: 03 December 2022].
Open Edition Journals: The South Sudan House in Amarat: South Sudanese enclaves in Khartoum [online] Available at:https://journals.openedition.org/ema/3574 [Accessed date: 03 December 2022].
University at Buffalo Global Health Equity: Materials and Constructibility: Questions of Availability, Affordability, and Appropriateness [online] Available at: https://www.buffalo.edu/globalhealthequity/global-projects/refugeehealthandwellbeing/uganda/architecture-students-explore-housing-solutions-for-refugees-in-.host.html/content/shared/www/globalhealthequity/research-and-development/refugee-health-and-well-being-uganda/evaluating-solutions/outlining-the-challenges/over-90–of-houses-in-south-sudan-are-grass-thatched–mud-huts-.detail.html [Accessed date: 04 December 2022].
Space Politik: Sudanese Modern Architecture [online] Available at:https://spacepolitik.wordpress.com/2014/07/22/sudanese-modern-architecture/[Accessed date: 04 December 2022].