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Venice Exhibition Restores African Architects to the Story of Tropical Modernism

With the focus of this year’s Venice Biennale on Africa and its diaspora, an eye-opening exhibit showcases the previously unheralded role of African architects in the development of Tropical Modernism. First introduced during colonialism, but later expanded upon during independence, the style of architecture was future-oriented and often experimental, and typically attributed to the creative genius of outsiders. Tropical Modernism can be found from Sri Lanka to Morocco, Zambia to Ivory Coast. Its development is closely tied to the history of colonialism: after the second world war, architects who had honed Modernist ideas in Europe headed for their empires’ territories in Africa and Asia.