Adobe Architecture of West Africa

Article author: FUNCI

Date of publication of the article: 20110624

Year of publication: 2011

Butabu: Adobe Architecture of West Africa: Photographs by James Morris presents 50 large-scale images of structures from monumental mosques to family homes. For centuries, complex adobe structures have been built in the Sahel region of western Africa. Made only of earth mixed with water, these buildings display a remarkable diversity of form.

Morris, a British photographer whose work centers on the built environment, spent several months traveling to remote villages and desert communities to photograph these organically shaped, labor-intensive adobe structures, creating both a typological record of regional adobe construction as well as an artist’s rendering of West African architecture that reflects the sensuous, surreal and sculptural quality of these distinctive buildings. Several ambitious religious buildings seem to push the physical limits of mud architecture. More humble structures, such as private homes or neighborhood mosques and churches, are highly expressive and stylish, and are often intricately decorated.

These African adobe buildings share many of the qualities now much admired in the West: sustainability, sculptural form and the participation of the community in conception, fabrication and preservation. (310) 825-4361, UCLA Fowler Museum of Cultural History, Los Angeles, through July 15.