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One of the ‘Most Important Examples of Modernism in Africa’ Under Threat

An exceptional example of modernist architecture in Burkina Faso has been cited by the World Monuments Fund as being under threat. Built in 1965 as a symbol of the country’s independence from colonialism, La Maison du Peuple in Ouagadougou is a theatre that is suffering from years of inadequate maintenance and a little legal support for preservation. Built as a civic centre and seat of governance in Burkina Faso’s new capital city following the country’s independence from France, the building combines elements of brutalist architecture with local colours and motifs. Its concrete facade mimics the colour of the surrounding ground, while it is topped with whimsical lanterns that allow light and air into the building’s main auditorium and were designed to recall traditional Mossi architecture. In recent years numerous brutalist buildings around the world have been lost, often to demolition, including Robin Hood Gardens housing estate in the UK by British architects Peter and Alison Smithson.