Colonial Architecture

Rolf Hasse, The Development of Colonial Architecture in the Former German East Africa, 2022

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The founders of the German East Africa colony found a solid construction method on the coast, that was based on Arabic architecture. However, the technology was limited by the available or easily accessible materials. Decisive was the availability and the use of coral stone – as quarry for masonry but especially for the burning of building lime. These two factors, combined with mangrove wood, led to multi-storey buildings that could be used by the Europeans. In the hinterland, where coral stone was not available, technology used by the Wagogo and the Wahehe served as a temporary solution until solid structures were completed. The Arabs had already known how to use this for themselves too and had improved on it. Even before the turn of the century, prefabricated buildings were imported to a considerable extent. Here, the technology was based on historical experience with European half-timbered construction. The utilization concepts were always variable. There was administrative use and housing use. Building director Gurlitt undertook a study trip to India in 1898/99 and there he studied the climate-appropriate construction method developed by the English. This then led to a number of high-quality housing developments for government employees and officials in Dar es Salaam. The application of these design criteria to the private buildings that were then created was based on the priorities of the builders and later architects. Representation was often more important than climate-appropriate design. It was seldom possible to combine the two.