Asmara – Modernist City

Asmara, the capital city of Eritrea, is one of the most important and exciting architectural ‘discoveries’ of recent years. Built almost entirely in the 1930s by the Italians, Asmara has one of the highest concentrations of Modernist architectures anywhere in the world, and has been evocatively described as “the Miami of Africa”. Desperate to build quickly, the colonial government of the time allowed radical architectural experimentation that would not have found favor in the more conservative European environment. Asmara therefore became the world’s prime building ground for architectural innovation during the Modern Movement. That this occurred at all is remarkable enough, but that these buildings should have survived in such numbers today makes it one of the finest Modernist cities in the world. Asmara’s extraordinary history… has meant that this important architectural legacy has escaped the destruction wrought by war and the exploitation of land that, elsewhere, has occurred in peacetime. Now that the city is open to the world, following the declaration of Eritrea’s Independence from Ethiopia in 1991, there has been a growing awareness of its architectural richness and significance, but never before has this legacy been published. This building-by-building survey, illustrated with rare archival material and specially commissioned photographs, is a groundbreaking publication that is set to become one of the most important books on Modernist architecture of recent decades.

Source: Asmara, Africa’s Secret Modernist City

By Edward Denison, Guang Yu Ren, Naigzy Gebremedhin

2003

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