women architects

In the vibrant tapestry of African architecture, women are carving out their own remarkable legacies, reshaping skylines, and redefining the boundaries of design. From bustling urban centres to remote rural landscapes, their visionary contributions are leaving an indelible mark on the built environment. Here, we present a curated list of African women architects whose innovative work spans continents, cultures, and contexts.

African architecture

From Algeria to Tanzania, these architects hail from diverse backgrounds, bringing with them a wealth of experiences and perspectives that enrich the architectural landscape of Africa and beyond.

In showcasing these diverse talents, we celebrate not only the achievements of individual architects but also the collective spirit of innovation, collaboration, and progress that defines African architecture today and into the future.

Below is a curated list, in alphabetical order, highlighting 50 Influential African Women Architects:

Akosua Serwah Obeng Mensah, Ghana

Akosua Obeng Mensah is an architect known for her passion for sustainable building practices. CNN recognized her as a “rising star in the world of architecture” in 2016.

 

Alia Bengana, Algeria

Alia Bengana is an Algerian architect, has cultivated a diverse expertise in regenerative materials, bioclimatic designs, earthen architecture, and sustainable materials.

 

Anya Van Der Merwe, South Africa

Anya Van der Merwe is an architect, professor, and businesswoman. She the first woman architect in South Africa to receive prestigious Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Institute of Architecture.

 

Assumpta Nnaggenda-Musana, Uganda

Assumpta Nnaggenda Musana is a Ugandan architect, academic and instructor, holds the distinction of being the first woman to earn a Ph.D. in Architecture in Uganda.

women architects

Assumpta Nnaggenda-Musana

Aziza Chaouni, Morocco

Aziza Chaouni is a Moroccan architect and civil engineer renowned for her dedication to creating sustainable built environments, particularly in the Middle East deserts.

 

Chinwe Ohajuruka, Nigeria

Chinwe Ohajuruka is a green architect and social entrepreneur, hailing from Nigeria. She founded Comprehensive Design Services (CDS), driven by a deep-seated commitment to addressing Nigeria’s housing crisis with eco-friendly solutions.

 

Chris Sutherland, Ghana

Chris Sutherland is a Ghanaian Architect and the Founder and Principal Architect at Sutherland & Sutherland in Ghana. Her work stands as a testament to blending modern design with Ghanaian heritage.

 

Danièle Diwouta-Kotto, Cameroon

Danièle Diwouta-Kotto is a Cameroonian designer and architect, renowned for her contributions to African design, architecture, and urban development.

 

Dominique Petit-Frère, Ghana

Dominique Petit-Frère is the co-founder of Limbo Accra. Petit-Frère’s visionary approach bridges contemporary African architecture with youth development through social interventions.

 

Elsie Owusu OBE, Ghana

Ghanaian-British architect and urban designer, Elsie Owusu OBE stands as the principal of Elsie Owusu Architects. Her numerous projects span the UK, Nigeria, and Ghana.

 

Emma Miloyo, Kenya

Emma Miloyo is a distinguished Kenyan architect and the co-founder and director of Design Source, based in Kenya. In 2017, she became the first woman to serve as President of the Architectural Association of Kenya.

 

Hayette Ndiaye, Chad

Hayette Ndiaye is a pioneering architect from Chad, known as the first female architect in the country. She serves as the President of the National Order of Architects of Chad (ONAT), advocating for sustainable housing both nationally and regionally.

women architects

Hayette Ndiaye

Ilze Wolff, South Africa

Ilze Wolff is a Cape-Town based South African architect and co-founder and partner at Wolff Architects. She is also the co-founder of Open House Architecture, a research-focused endeavour dedicated to documenting Southern African architecture.

 

Irene Masiyanise, Zimbabwe

Irene Masiyanise is the Principal Architect of Masiyanise TI Architect (MTI Architect). She has served as the Chairperson of ACZ and President of the IAZ, where she made significant strides as the first female and first Black female president, respectively.

women architects

Irene Masiyanise

Katherine Maree Otten, South Africa

Katherine Maree Otten is a South African Architect and the founder of Kate Otten Architects, renowned for her innovative designs rooted in South African tradition. In 2020, she assumed the role of President of the South African Institute of Architects.

 

Leigh Bishop, South Africa

Leigh Bishop is a South African architect and a partner and board member at DHK Architects, where she specializes in business development, particularly focusing on healthcare and public projects.

 

Lesley Lokko, Ghana

Lesley Lokko OBE is a Ghanaian-Scottish architect, academic, and novelist. In January 2024, Lokko was awarded the prestigious Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA), becoming the first African woman and only the second black architect to receive this honour since its inception in 1848.

women architects

Professor Lesley Lokko OBE Image: Festus Jackson-Davis; Courtesy of Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)

Linda Mvusi, South Africa

Linda Mvusi is renowned as both an actress and architect based in Johannesburg, South Africa. Notable among her diverse portfolio are her contributions to the Apartheid Museum in Johannesburg, the Soweto Railway Stations, and Johannesburg’s Park Station.

 

Magda Mostafa, Egypt

Magda Mostafa is an architect, Principal of StudioTM, and Professor of Design at the American University in Cairo (AUC). She is internationally renowned for her groundbreaking work in developing the ASPECTSS™ design guidelines, the world’s first research-based framework for autism.

women architects

Magda Mostafa

Maliam Mdoko, Malawi

Maliam Mdoko is the Projects Manager at the Press Trust, a leading charitable institution in Malawi. She is the first female president of the Malawi Institute of Architects (MIA).

 

May al-Ibrashy, Egypt

May al-Ibrashy is an Egyptian architectural engineer with close to 30 years of field experience in conservation and heritage management in Historic Cairo. She is the co-founder and principal of Megawra.

 

Mariam Issoufou Kamara, Niger

Mariam Issoufou Kamara is a Nigerien architect and founder and the principal of Atelier Masomi, She was named one of the creatives on the 2023 list of Africa’s Most Influential People and recognized by The New York Times as one of 15 Creative Women of Our Time.

 

Melissa Jeannette Kacoutié, Ivory Coast

Mélissa Kacoutié is an Ivorian architect and the founder of Jeannette Studio Architecture. Her approach emphasizes the use of local and environmentally friendly materials, advocating for sustainability in architectural design.

 

Miminat Shodeinde, Nigeria

Miminat Shodeinde is a British Nigerian architect, artist, designer and founder of Miminat Designs. Miminat Designs has earned a place in The House & Garden Top 100 Designers (2023), The Elle Décor A-List (2023), Frederick Magazine IT List (2023), and AD Middle East Top 100 (2023).

 

Nada Elfeituri, Libya

Nada Elfeituri is an architect and writer from Benghazi, Libya, Her expertise lies in community-led spatial development, alongside skills in graphic design, communications, and capacity building.

 

Nana Akua Oppong Birmeh, Ghana

Nana Akua Oppong Birmeh is a Ghanaian architect and the principal architect of ArchXenus. She has been honoured in the Forty under 40 Awards and named one of BBC’s 100 Women in 2017.

 

Nina Maritz, Namibia

Nina Maritz is a Namibian Architect and the principal and founder of Nina Maritz Architects. Maritz co-founded GREENSPACE, an NGO dedicated to urban environment conservation, and SENS (Sustainable Energy Namibia Society), promoting sustainable energy adoption across the government and public sectors.

 

Noella Nibakuze, Rwanda

Noella Nibakuze is a Rwandan architect and the Design Director at MASS, She actively advocates for women in STEM and mentors aspiring designers at Rwanda’s School of Architecture and the Built Environment.

 

Nzinga Biegueng Mboup, Senegal

Nzinga Biegueng Mboup is a Senegalese architect based in Dakar, renowned for her expertise in bioclimatic design and construction using locally sourced earth and biomaterials.

 

Olajumoke Adenowo, Nigeria

Olajumoke Olufunmilola Adenowo is a Nigerian architect known for her pioneering work in the field. Her design philosophy, “NeoHeritage Architecture,” emphasizes contemporary African architecture with a global impact.

 

Ola Uduku, Nigeria

Ola Uduku is a British Nigerian architect and serves as the Head of Liverpool School of Architecture. Uduku’s expertise extends to modern architecture in West Africa, the history of educational architecture in Africa, and contemporary social infrastructure provision for minority communities.

 

Olayinka Dosekun-Adjei, Nigeria

Olayinka Dosekun-Adjei is a Nigerian architect and the Creative Director of Studio Contra, based in Lagos, Nigeria. She earned an M.Arch from Harvard University Graduate School of Design as a Kennedy Scholar.

 

Patti Anahory, Cabo Verde

Patti Anahory is a Cape Verdean architect, designer, and Co-Founder of Storia na Lugar, a platform dedicated to storytelling and counter-narratives.

 

Paula Nascimento, Angola

Paula Nascimento is an Angolan architect and independent curator known for her interdisciplinary approach to architecture, urbanism, and visual arts.

 

Rahel Shawl, Ethiopia

Rahel Shawl is an award-winning Ethiopian architect and the founder and principal of RAAS Architects in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. She mentors young professionals and advocates for women in architecture.

 

Rosemary Orthner, Ghana

Rosemary Orthner is a Ghanaian Austrian Architect and the co-founder of Orthner Orthner Architects (OOA). OOA’s projects underscore Orthner’s commitment to sustainable and affordable housing solutions in Ghana.

 

Salima Naji, Morocco

Salima Naji is an architect and anthropologist based in Morocco. Her commitment to heritage conservation has had a profound impact on Morocco’s architectural landscape and cultural resilience.

 

Samia Henni, Algeria

Samia Henni is an architectural historian, writer, educator, and curator, known for her insightful exploration of built environments within colonial contexts.

 

Sarah Calburn, South Africa

Sarah Calburn is a South African architect and the founder and director of Sarah Calburn Architects. She actively contributes to the architectural discourse in South Africa through teaching, lecturing, and writing on architecture and urbanism.

 

Sarah El Battouty, Egypt

Sarah El Battouty is an Egyptian Architect and the founder of ECOnsult. She has been appointed as a senior advisor to the Egyptian president, focusing on sustainable community development, playing a pivotal role in shaping Egypt’s environmental policy.

 

Shahira Fahmy, Egypt

Shahira Fahmy is an Egyptian architect and the founder and principal of Shahira Fahmy Architects (SFA) in Cairo, Egypt. Her architectural interests revolve around exploring narratives of identity and belonging from an African perspective.

women architects

Sarah El Battouty

Shamla Fernandez, Kenya

Shamla Fernandez is an Indian Kenyan architect and principal of Shamla Fernandez Architect. A dedicated mother, Shamla’s decision to start her own practice was motivated by her commitment to balancing career aspirations with family responsibilities.

 

Sithabile Mathe, Botswana

Sithabile Mathe is a Botswana architect and Managing Director of Moralo Designs. She is Chairperson of the Architect’s Registration Council of Botswana and Chairperson of the Botswana Housing Corporation Board.

 

Stella Mutegi – Kenya

Stella Mutegi is the director and co-founder of Cave_bureau, an architectural studio based in Nairobi, Kenya. Her expertise extends to geological and anthropological investigations, particularly in caves within the Great Rift Valley.

 

Sumayya Vally, South Africa

Sumayya Vally is a South African artist and the founder and principal of Counterspace. In 2020, she became the youngest architect commissioned to design the Serpentine Pavilion in London.

 

Tatu Gatere, Kenya

Tatu Gatere is an architect, entrepreneur, and advocate for change in Kenya’s construction industry. Co-Founder & CEO of Buildher, Gatere was honoured among Africa’s 100 Women of Excellence in 2020.

 

Tosin Oshinowo, Nigeria

Tosin Oshinowo is a Lagos-based Nigerian architect, designer, and the principal architect of Oshinowo Studio. She co-curated the second Lagos Biennial in 2019 and curated the second Sharjah Architecture Triennial in 2023.

 

Valerie Mavoungou Rodriguez, Congo

Valérie Mavoungou is Congolese-Ukrainian Architect and the founder of l’Atelier tropical. Her work emphasises modern aesthetics tailored to their tropical environments while adhering to international construction standards.

 

 Victoria Marwa Heilman, Tanzania

Dr Victoria Marwa Heilman is a Tanzanian architect. As the founder and director of VK Green Architects Limited in Dar es Salaam, she is a staunch advocate for sustainable design and construction.

women architects

Victoria Marwa Heilman

In celebrating these extraordinary women, we honour their dedication, resilience, and unwavering passion for shaping a better future through architecture. Let their stories serve as a testament to the transformative power of women in the field of architecture and as a reminder of the endless possibilities that lie ahead.

 

African women architects are not only leaving a mark in their respective countries

but also making waves on the global stage.

 

Full thanks and acknowledgement go to https://africanscolumn.com for the information in this article.

To read more about these influential women, click here.

 

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