East Africa’s first – an architectural publication for the people

Text by Leila Peacock

Like many African cities, the lively port of Dar es Salaam is growing at an unprecedented rate. Much of this growth is uncontrolled or unplanned and, as a result, it suffers from traffic congestion, illegal construction and a rise in informal settlements. All of which places a huge strain on an infrastructure struggling to cope. Despite the rate of construction, there are only 300 registered architects in all of Tanzania, compared to 10,000 registered in London. And these architects - especially the new generation, the first to be educated in East Africa - are working to clearly define their role in the fray.

When Swiss architecture magazine Camenzind offered to run a four-week workshop on magazine production in the city, it encountered a determined and articulate group of students and graduates who felt the need for a locally produced publication that would provide a platform for reflection on their environment. Together, they produced East Africa's first architecture magazine in less than a month.

The first issue of Anza ("start" in Swahili) was printed in an initial run of 5,000 and distributed throughout Africa and Europe. Inside, there is a discussion of the relative merits of informal cities and the challenges they pose to planners. It also includes an interview with a local cab driver, papers by international academics and interviews with two of the region's most famous architects, current pioneers of African modernism.

As for the next issue, it will focus on heritage and tourism. Until now, these have been competing concerns, with developers pushing to build with no regard for what already exists. Anza will address the widespread destruction of colonial buildings to make way for air-conditioned glass towers that are springing up with no heed for sustainability, and how to create a culture of conservation while remaining modern. It will also provide a critical response to the highly anticipated "city plan", outlining whether Dar es Salaam's designs for its future are incorporating both its past and the present needs of the populace.

Anza is a new and necessary voice - one that deserves a platform as East Africa seeks solutions for the future of her cities. §

All images courtesy BHSF

  • Anza Magazine