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Stone Town Styles of East Coast Africa

Stone Town Styles of East Coast Africa

Stone Towns in East Africa are situated along 3000 km of the coast, from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique
Engelbrecht, S.; Rickens-Körner, A.
stone-town-styles
9780620312080
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Stone Town Styles of East Coast Africa

Authors: Stan Engelbrecht; Antje Rickens-Körner
Publisher: Bell-Roberts
Cape Town, 2003
ISBN: 9780620312080
Paperback, 28x28 cm, 180 pages, throughout colour photos


Stone Town Styles of East Coast Africa
Erhaltung alter ostafrikansicher Bausubstanz gepaart mit der gelegentlichen Einbindung moderner Lebensnotwendigkeiten, in intensiven und romantischen Motiven. Inspirierend!


Description:

The coastal region of East Africa has a history that evokes a sense of mythology.

It is linked to stories, myths and legends that conjure up images of narrow alleyways, breezy rooftops, magnificent doors and private courtyards; of traders arriving from distant lands by sailing vessels, bringing exotic wares to be exchanged for treasures from the interior.

Stone Towns in East Africa are situated along 3000 km of the coast, from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, and on some of the offshore islands along the Bar-el-Zanj (coast of the blacks) and in the Bahr-el-Zanj (sea of the blacks).

The area has been described as forgotten, and surrounded by mystery. Stone towns are to be found all over the world. The name refers to that part of a settlement that was built of more solid material than mud and wattle, and usually denotes the old part of a town.

In East Coast Africa there are coastal settlements constructed of fossilized coral limestone obtained from the coral reefs that line the coastal region.

They were built by wealthy merchants and plantation owners and are linked by a maritime tradition that dates back over a thousand years. These port-cities are termed stone towns or sometimes old towns.

In Zanzibar the capital is named Stone Town. Some of the best remaining examples of the traditional stone towns are to be found on Lamu Island, and Stone Town in Zanzibar is rich in architectural and interior examples of various colonial styles.


About the Authors:

Stan Engelbrecht was born in 1976. This is his second book. His first book, The Caution Horses, a study of the Namibian wild horses, was published in 2001.

Antje Rickens-Körner was born in Germany in 1951. Raised in the multicultural milieus of South Africa, Egypt, Lebanon and the United Kingdom, she has immersed herself in the art, houses and lifestyles of diverse cultures. Leaving a successful two-decade career in real estate, Antje pursued her interests studying at the Inchbald School of Design, University of Wales, obtaining a Master’s degree cum laude in Interior Architecture. She is currently lecturing in Interior Design in Cape Town.


Contents:

Foreword
Glossary of Terms
Abbreviations
Introduction
Roots of Style
Doors to the Interiors
Traditional Spaces and Materials
Colonial Styles
Detail and Decoration
Contemporary Issues
Acknowledgements
Illustrations
Bibliography
Notes
Index


Foreword: Antje Rickens-Körner

Why is the old capital of Zanzibar called Stone Town? This was the first question I asked on arrival in 1998 in Zanzibar, where my fellow traveller, Robert Grace, and I had decided to ‘go exploring’. I pursued this question, and the nature of the interiors of the stone houses of the East Coast of Africa, for an MA thesis at the Inchbald School of Design, University of Wales.

I returned to the East Coast in 2000, accompanied by Robert who was not going to miss out on what we now considered ‘more serious exploring’, and thus continued the research that I had started at various libraries in London. Many aspects of this initial research have been included in this book. The subject area focuses on the 12th to 20th century interior architecture of stone towns in the East African coastal region.

This includes literary and field research, geographic and historic aspects of climate, trade and socio-cultural influences. There is a spatial and material analysis of house types and decorative elements. Conservation and contemporary aspects of traditional East Coast interior architecture are also considered. In October 2002 I set out again, this time accompanied by Stan Engelbrecht, who was to take professional photographs, was also keen to see Stan’s visual perspective on things.

Three weeks of adventure: some of our money and a credit card ‘got lost’ on the second day and it was low budget from then on. Stan was determined not to give up until the last roll of film had been shot. He had no assistant and lugged all the heavy equipment himself, often in temperatures of 35° to 40°C. The almost obligatory illnesses did not pass us by nor did the mosquitoes.

We shot our final roll of film on the last day in Lamu. A highlight was being sailed across the channel to the airport on Manda Island by our Nahouda Ali and his crew. Stan managed a last ‘dhow-ski’ before putting on his boots for our return flight to Nairobi and home.


Introduction:

In AD 1200 a prince from Oman was established in a stone-built city at Pate, there were others at Sofala, Kilwa, Mombasa, Malindi, Mogadishu, Pemba and Zanzibar along the coast of the Zanj. Phillips

The coastal region of East Africa has a history that evokes a sense of mythology. It is linked to stories, myths and legends that conjure up images of narrow alleyways, breezy rooftops, magnificent doors and private courtyards; of traders arriving from distant lands by sailing vessel bringing exotic wares to be exchanged for treasures from the interior.

The reverse side of this romantic image was the danger and hardship that had to be borne: the ocean was rife with piracy and marauding tribes were a constant threat on the islands and the mainland. Terrible diseases were widespread and the ‘treasures’ from the interior came from the notorious slave and ivory trades, Stone towns in East Africa are situated along 3000km of the coast, from southern Somalia to northern Mozambique, and on some of the offshore islands along the Bar-el-Zanj (coast of the blacks) and in the Bahr-el-Zanj (sea of the blacks).

The area has been described as forgotten, and surrounded by mystery: „In the age of the Arabian Nights there was such a sea [Bahr-el-Zanj]. Sinbad knew it well, although after years its name is quite forgotten.“ The area is mentioned in Gulliver’s Travels, The Female Crusoe and in several tales in the many different versions of the Arabian Nights, of Queen Shehezerade and The Thousand Nights and a Night.

Stone towns are to be found all over the world. The name refers to that part of a settlement that was built of more solid material than mud and wattle, and usually denotes the old part of a town. In East Coast Africa there are coastal settlements constructed of fossilized coral limestone obtained from the coral reefs that line the coastal region.

They were built by wealthy merchants and plantation owners and are linked by a maritime tradition that dates back over a thousand years. These port-cities are termed stone towns or sometimes old towns. In Zanzibar the capital is named Stone Town, The coastal region is on one of the early major trade routes of the world and has played an important role historically.

These factors, together with the climatic conditions and available material and labour, have created special architectural styles. In East Coast Africa stone towns were usually situated at a well-sheltered harbour, and houses developed in clusters of ethnic or family affinities.

Some of the coastal stone towns that remain are to be found in the Lamu Archipelago, Mombasa, Vanga, Moroni, Mtsandu, Zanzibar, Bagamoyo and Kilwa. Of particular interest are Lamu Island and Stone Town, Zanzibar. Lamu town to this day has only four cars and the main road, Harambee Avenue, is an alley just wide enough for the passage of donkeys and their load, Some of the best remaining examples of the traditional stone houses are to be found on Lamu Island, and Stone Town in Zanzibar is rich in architectural and interior examples of various colonial styles. [...]