Stone versus Macuti (Straw) The Permanence of the Architecture of Ibo Island, Quirimbas, Northern Mozambique

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1 UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress P Stone versus Macuti (Straw) The Permanence of the Architecture of Ibo Island, Quirimbas, Northern Mozambique Emmett, Patricia Masters Student, Department of Architecture, University of the Free State, South Africa, Architect, Emmett : Emmett Architects cc, Durban, South Africa. Abstract The Swahili coastline, stretches nearly km on the East African coastline from Ilha de Mozambique to Mogadishu in Somalia. Traders from the East used dhows and the monsoon winds to trade across the Indian Ocean. Arab merchants settled in these areas from the 9 th Century onwards. Intermarriage with local African women was the origin of Swahili Culture with its own language. The Portuguese settled on Ibo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Northern Mozambique between the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Later there was economic domination by Indian traders and the slave trade. This cultural interchange lead to the development of a typical Swahili settlement of the Stone Town of European, Arab and Swahili influences constructed of rag coral and the Macuti Town (City of Straw). The Stone Town was occupied by higher class merchants while fishermen and farmers occupied the Macuti Town. The mosque always occupied the central space. A clear line with racial undertones separated the two types of settlements while three forts occupied strategic positions. Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975 followed by a bitter civil war. The dynamic nature of Swahili settlements can be called recombinant urbanism, allowing changing cultural forms and layered architectures. The Macuti Town is still a flourishing settlement while ownership disputes in Stone Town in the change of leadership have resulted in many buildings unoccupied and decaying for decades. Keywords: Swahili, Portuguese settlements, hybrid architecture, intangible heritage, recombinant urbanism. * Contact Author: Patricia Emmett, Masters Student, University of the Free State; 362 Lilian Ngoyi Road Durban 4001 South Africa Tel: UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress 1

2 UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress 1. Introduction The Swahili coastline, incorporating port cities and islands, stretches nearly km on the East African coastline from Ilha de Mozambique to Mogadishu in Somalia. Traders from the East used dhows and the monsoon winds to trade across the Indian Ocean. Arab merchants settled in these areas from the 9 th Century onwards. Intermarriage with local African women was the origin of Swahili Culture with its own language. This paper examines the spatial evolution of the Swahili settlement in terms of its architecture on Ibo Island in the Quirimbas Archipelago, Northern Mozambique. The conservation plans already drawn up identifying individual buildings and squares to be conserved will be assessed through the Historic Urban Landscapes approach in order to define the limits of acceptable change. The Quirimbas Archipelago was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List in Swahili Architecture The Swahili (derived from the Arab word Sahil meaning coast) share not only a language but a culture with the same traditions and customs. This has led to their built environments using the same architectural typologies in domestic and religious architecture. Dominant always are the links to waterways and the sea, both for trading and food. Swahili settlements are divided into wards called mitaas. There were two distinct types, Stone Towns and Macuti (meaning straw) towns. The Stone Towns were occupied by higher class merchants while fishermen and farmers occupied the Macuti Town. The mosque always occupied the central space. Swahili settlements sprung up where deeper water and harbours were possible. Precedent studies include Zanzibar in Tanzania, Lomu in Kenya and the Island of Mozambique, the only World Heritage site in Mozambique. All these settlements are characterized by Stone Towns and Macuti Towns with one or more dominant mosques. Figures.1a, b and c. Zanzibar, Tanzania. Figures.2a, b and c. Lamu, Kenya. UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress 2

3 Figures.3a, b and c. Island of Mozambique. 3. Ibo Island The Portuguese settled on Ibo Island between the sixteenth and seventeenth century. Later there was economic domination by Indian traders and the slave trade. This cultural interchange lead to the development of a typical Swahili settlement of the Stone Town of European, Arab and Swahili influences constructed of rag coral and the Macuti Town (City of Straw) of traditional African architecture but with the plan form of Swahili origin. The mosque always occupied the central space. A clear line with racial undertones separated the two types of settlements while three forts occupied strategic positions. Fig. 4, Early map of Ibo Island showing the Portuguese influence on Stone Town. The homogeneity of Stone Town is a result of the builders on the island using the same building materials, UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress 3

4 (coral and timber), construction methods and façade treatments characterized by similar doors and fenestration patterns, for centuries. The planning is unlike that of Ilha de Mozambique in that the roads are wide, lined with veranda fronted low scale buildings. Fig. 5 a, b and c, Portuguese influence on the buildings of Stone Town. Ibo Island has the second largest area of mangroves, used for the construction of Macuti houses. The Macuti houses traditionally were wattle and daub structures with Macuti leaves used for roofing. The roof was a large hipped umbrella structure shielding the walls from the harsh sun. Macuti needs to be replaced every two years and is now expensive as it is in demand for roofing holiday resorts. The Macuti is being replaced with zinc sheeting, more permanent and less chance of being destroyed by fire but so intolerably hot at night that people sleep outside. The sheeting is also very dangerous during cyclones. The wattle and daub walls are being replaced with concrete block construction. Fig. 6 a, b and c, Macuti Town. Mozambique gained independence from Portugal in 1975 followed by a bitter civil war. Ownership disputes and abandoned buildings in the change of leadership have plagued the continuity of the occupation of Stone Town leaving many buildings unoccupied and decaying for decades. 4. Dynamic Urbanism The layering of architectures and the dynamic ever changing nature of Swahili settlements can be called recombinant urbanism, defined by Shane as urban splicing, analogously to genetic recombination, involves the sorting, layering, overlapping, and combination of disparate elements to create new combinations when intangible heritage shapes and defines the settlements. The Macuti Town is still an evolving flourishing settlement as, since Independence, there was more emphasis on intangible heritage (songs, dance and music festivals) defining the rise of nationalism and the achievement of freedom from colonial oppression while the Stone Town can be seen as symbolizing that oppression resulting in the ruins remaining unoccupied and decaying further. 4 UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress

5 The restoration of the colonial buildings, following the limits of acceptable change would allow Stone Town being used as a generator for increased tourism and revenue for the island where many of the local residents live in poverty. The revenue spent on the restoration of Stone Town should be matched by revenue spent in the Macuti Town, particularly in infrastructure. Fig. 7 a, b and c, Vibrant Macuti Town and the abandoned ruin of Stone Town. 4. Conclusion The Historic Urban Landscape analysis should be used as a vehicle to insure that the conservation of the architecture of Ibo Island is not an exercise in protecting monuments and collections of antiquities but rather allowing dynamic change through the expression of intangible heritage, the beliefs, values and customs that define the group. Although the conservation of Stone Town will ensure heritage tourism for Ibo Island, without acknowledging the dynamic urbanism that shapes the architecture of the island particularly of the Macuti Town the historic centre will be isolated from its origins, an historic area of elite buildings surrounded by an increasing area of low-income neighbourhoods. Fig.8. Abandoned building in Stone Town. References 1) Carrilho, J. (2004). Ibo a casa e o tempo. Maputo. Edicoes FAPF, Universidade Eduardo Mondlane 2) Carrilho, J. (2008). Plano de Urbanizacao da Vila do Ibo. Governo da Provincia de Cabo Delgado, Maputo. Universidade Eduardo Mondlane. UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress 5

6 3) Ghaidan, H. (1976). Lamu, A Study in Conservation. East African Literature Bureau, Kenya 4) Guedes, P and Lewcock, R. (2012). Portuguese architectural adaptations to the architectures of the East and their legacy. Sao Paulo. 5) Heathcott, J. (2012). Historic Urban Landscapes of the Swahili Coast: New Frameworks for Conservation. New School, USA. UNESCO. 6) Horton, M. and Middleton, J. (2 000). The Swahili, The Social Landscape of a Mercantile Society. Massachusetts, USA. Blackwell Publishers. 7) Jopela, A. (2012). Island of Mozambique. Paris. UNESCO. 8) Pereira Rogers, A. (2012). Lessons from the Island of Mozambique on Limits of Acceptable Change. Eindhoven. UNESCO. 9) Shane, DG. (2005). Recombinant Urbanism, Conceptual Modeling in Architecture, Urban Design and City Theory. Chichester, England. John Wiley and Sons Ltd. 10) Siravo, F, The Aga Khan Trust for Culture. (1996). Zanzibar, A Plan for the Historic Stone Town. The Gallery Publications. 11) Sollien, SE. (2011). The Macuti House in Ilha de Mozambique, Transforming the other side of a World Heritage Site. Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts. 12) Sollien, SE. The Macuti House, Traditional Building Techniques and Sustainable Development in Ilha de Mocambique. ICOMOS. 13) Sollien. (2012). The Persistence of the Myth and the Cradle of Portugueseness on the Indian Ocean. University of California, Berkeley. 14) Stephens, C. (2006). A Preliminary Survey of Heritage and Archaeological Resources of Ibo Island. 15) The Quirimbas Archipelago, submission made 20/08/2008. World Tentative list. 16) UNESCO. (2011). Recommendations on the Historic Urban Landscape. Paris, UNESCO 17) Van Oers, R. (2013). Swahili Historic Urban Landscapes. Report on the Historic Urban Landscape Workshops and Field Activities on the Swahili Coast in East Africa Paris, UNESCO. 18) Van Oers, R. (2011) Swahili Historic Urban Landscapes, Applying HUL in East Africa. Paris. UNESCO. 19) Wanjiru, MP. (2008). Evolution of Swahili Architecture. University of Nairobi. 6 UIA 2017 Seoul World Architects Congress

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