Fractals in African Design

The assumption that European architecture is the only possibility for Africa continues a colonial view that is long overdue for disruption. African Indigenous settlements have a beautiful tradition of nonlinear scaling: circles within circles; rectangles within rectangles, and so on. These fractal patterns can be utilized in contemporary African architectural design, returning cultural value to the people who generated it. They also have environmental advantages: reducing need for air conditioning; creating irregular green spaces that break up the monotony of grids; making space for outdoor meetings, etc. And beyond architecture, Africa’s bottom-up tradition reflects an Indigenous generative economy throughout its design practices.

TED talk on African Fractals

Simulations: try your hand at modifying these traditional fractal design patterns.

Book: African Fractals: Modern Computing and Indigenous Design

Contemporary buildings:

Xavier Vilalta’s fractal buildings in Ethiopia

Fractal plan for University of Central Highlands, Angola


Fractal building in Ethiopia wins the Prix Versailles architecture award