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Durban based Zulu heritage museum wins top prize at inaugural Africa Architecture Awards

A Zulu heritage museum, in Durban, South Africa, the Umkhumbane Cultural and Heritage Museum was awarded the Grand Prix in the Africa Architecture Awards. The continent’s inaugural architecture awards is a welcome celebration and recognition of Africa’s architecture creatives.



Great architectural buildings grace the African continent, some of which have become tourist attractions. Despite some amazing architectural projects that have redefined major cities across the continent, very few remarkable buildings have won international awards. The continent has seldom celebrated its talent with its own awards. However, that trend is slowly changing, and African architecture is making its mark, getting recognition locally and internationally. The talent of architecture creatives was recognised at Africa’s first Architecture Awards held in South Africa recently.

A total of 307 entries were whittled down to 21 shortlisted entries, 12 certificate winners, 4 trophy winners and 1 Grand Prix winner. Evan Lockart-Barker, the founding sponsor of the Africa Architecture Awards talked of “creating a legacy for architecture on the continent.” Entries from 32 countries were received.

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The Umkhumbane Cultural and Heritage Museum by a Durban based firm Choromanski Architects, was awarded the Grand Prix in the Africa Architecture Awards. The Grand Prix winner received a $10,000 cash prize. The museum was built recently for $6 million (R80 million).


Photo: @archidatum

The award was judged by seven jurors. The jurors approached the awards based on innovation, identity and implementation. The award seeks to provide a sense of cultural reconnaissance in the African built environment.

The first Pan-African architecture awards programme was established by construction group Saint-Gobain to showcase Africa’s best projects.  According to Saint- Gobain, through the Africa Architecture Awards, Saint-Gobain works toward creating a platform that can be used to highlight and expose key work and initiatives that contribute to the architectural landscape on the continent.

The inaugural Africa Architecture Awards took place in Cape Town, South Africa at the Thomas Heatherwick-designed Zeitz MOCAA – a building set to become the world’s most important exhibition space for African art.

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The patron of the awards, David Adjaye describe the awards as “particularly important because this is the moment that a lot is happening on the continent in terms of development, in terms of the architecture that’s being produced.”

The Umkhumbane Cultural and Heritage Museum showcases the Zulu nation’s cultural heritage. The museum has the burial site of the remains of the late mother of King Goodwill Zwelithini, Queen Thomozile kaNdwandwe Zulu.