The architecture in Mozambique displays an array of styles ranging from traditional African architecture to Portuguese colonial architecture comprising Indian and Arabic influences to a somewhat lesser extent. While architects like Pancho Guedes practiced their own modernism, the country wasn’t devoid of European-American Modernism because of colonialism. However, addressal to the climate and use of local materials brought along nuances in articulation producing an architecture which was an eclectic mix of vernacular and modernist architecture which are reflected in many of the projects.
1. Saipal Bakery / Pancho Guedes
The Saipal Bakery is known for its shape of a huge Portuguese bread. The project follows the architect’s idiosyncratic style; Stiloguedes, which has faced criticism as well as praises for its symbolic sculptural qualities, organic geometry, unexpected materials, local forms of ornament, and rare and bold spatial solutions. The two structure-governing parabolic arches require little reinforcement (theoretically none) whereas the intersection of columns and arches that facilitate load transfer become monumental personages. This project marked a new era of engineering in Mozambique and was one of the few projects by the architect that was realized despite its unusual form.
2. Santo António da Polana / Nuno Craveiro Lopes
The church of Santo António da Polana establishes itself as a landmark in the urban landscape due to its shape, volume, and scale. It portrays a close conceptual resemblance to the modern Brazilian architecture and brutalist style with its concrete envelope that draws references from the inverted bellflower. Structurally, the building rests on the 16 vertices of this form leaving the interior volume free with the highlights of crystalline points of the concrete shell. The resultant triangular voids are glazed in entirety. The interior of the church is enhanced with ceramic flooring and stained glass windows complementing religious iconography.
3. Benguerra Lodge / Michaelis Boyd Associates
Location: Bazaruto Archipelago
The Benguerra Lodge is a luxury beach retreat that was modernized incorporating the traditional local construction methods. The lodge consists of 15 guest rooms which are accessed through meandering paths amongst the bush, each of which is provided with a timber deck and an infinity pool articulated to provide a sense of privacy along with a view of the beach. These rooms feature the traditional majeka thatched roof and reed walls employing local material and labor. The interior is outfitted with traditional Mozambican decor along with elements from Portuguese colonial design. The main building features a timber frame structure with simbiri beams and a tall thatch roof. The landscaping of the entire project sensitively reacts to the locations and existing plant species through meandering of paths and timber decks opening up to encapsulate the Palm trees. The dhow, a local sailboat washed up in the cyclone has been converted into a bar with a spectacular view of the sunset over the beach.
4. Villa Suluwilo / COA
Location: Vamizi Island
The overall layout of Villa Suluwilo accommodates natural vegetation and site features by breaking the simple linear plan form into pavilions. The project features sunken Arabic courtyards, solid clay wall elements, open-air bathrooms, “cooling” planted water features, connecting walkways, daybeds, etc drawing strong similarities to traditional villas. However, its organic roofline, inspired by the marine environment and the dhow sails seen all over the island is a prominent feature of the design. The sweeping palm thatch roof provides for passive cooling through the ridgelines whereas its articulated angle and interlocking form catch the wind and provide additional shading on the north facade of gambles.
5. Nacala Airport / Fernandes Arquitetos Associados
Built to serve the rising needs of port activities and local needs of the city, the airport is a single-story ‘lean’ structure. The flow of users occurs from the center to the end of the wings which are connected through a central lobby, the mezzanine of which homes commercial areas and administration services. The roof integrates different volumes along with incorporating natural lighting and ventilation. It also plays a key role in the identification of the project as an urban landmark, not only of strategic value but also as a carrier of transformation and modernization in a developing country.
6. Benga Riverside Residential Community / Kere Architecture
Located on the picturesque banks of the Zambezi river, this residential community aimed at defining a new neighborhood typology that integrates landscape and the natural heritage with its users. The project establishes architectural identity with the use of local materials, techniques, and labor, and thus, achieves low maintenance and high quality through modular design. Private courtyard spaces and scenic views along with passive ventilation and wastewater management provides for a sustainable and economic housing solution. The project includes other private and public spaces such as primary school, sports center, clubhouse, restaurant, commercial storefronts for local shops and businesses along with the housing units.
7. Girl Move Academy / ROOT STUDIO + Paz Braga
This project intended to expose the social impact of Girl Move Academy’s programs along with being a symbol of women’s leadership. This community-driven project with the participation of neighbors and students had 85% of it being made with traditionally produced in situ bricks. The use of earth as one of the construction materials was to dignify its otherwise neglected importance. The project, along with the upbringing of the women, has a profound societal impact on the community and the region of Nampula.
8. Educational Building In Mozambique / Master students of Bergen School of Architecture
Type: Educational Building
The educational building (built during their master’s course) consists of a concrete enclosure with computers for trainees with sandbag infills for thermal mass and a glass bottle wall which provides for windows along with aesthetics. A large sliding door separates it from the open space whose light straw doors convert it into a pavilion for kids. The roof of corrugated iron sheets with self-made trusses facilitates natural ventilation and the inner straw roof filters out the hot air. The construction was done in a demonstrational manner incorporating vernacular methods with new interpretations.
9. US Embassy Maputo / Allied Works Architecture
The US Embassy sits along the Indian Ocean with its in situ concrete walls extending into the landscape of water, hills, and natural vegetation. The project attempts to realize the concept of security and transparency through intricate weaving, screening, and revealing through its concrete walls. The project portrays wide-ranging influences from local textiles and handicrafts to mid-century Maputo Modernism. On the other hand, the brise-soleil of UHPC that facilitates light, ventilation and spectacular views of beach and forest hills reflect the American technological and design leadership.
10. Netherlands Embassy in Mozambique / Kaan Architecten
Located just outside the capital city of Maputo close to the ocean, the Dutch embassy sits on the edge of an orthogonal, gently sloping site. The embassy is strategically south facing to allow light without heat. The extracted section from rough monolith concrete with filigree detailing creates the courtyard. The verandah consists of steel columns that resemble Portuguese colonial architecture. These columns along with wooden slats enclose the inner garden, whereas the outer garden features 12 ornate trees that break the sun.