Why did Africans focus so much on fractal designs while other groups did more with Euclidian geometry? Every culture makes use of certain geometric design themes. Native Americans, for example, made four-fold symmetry central to their designs. The African focus on fractals emphasizes their own cultural priorities. It can even be heard in their polyrhythmic music (similar simultaneous rhythms at different scales).
At left is an aerial photo of the place of the chief in Logone-Birni, Cameroon. The simulation above is a golden rectangle, which can be recursively subdivided. The map of the path to the throne room (middle) approximates a golden spiral. The royal insignia (right) includes three iterations of scaling rectangles; they are well aware of the scaling properties of their architecture.
One way to simulate the palace is shown here: Replace exterior lines with interior lines. Another is to work in the opposite direction: grow from a small seed in the center and build walls outward. To use that simulation, select “Edit Mode” and find “Golden Rectangle” in the list of seed shapes. Which simulation do you think is better, and why?
In the first iteration you see a single house. Note the single line of the sacred altar toward the back of the house. Click "2" for the second iteration. Now the altar has become the house, and it is surrounded by circular granaries forming a corral. Click "3" and you will see that the main house becomes the chief's family village, inside the village as a whole. New York architect Bernard Tsuchmi experimented with this simulation when exploring designs for a museum of African Art. See if you can adapt this shape for a contemporary building.
Why do the corrals get bigger going from the front entrance of the village to the back? This is a status gradient: the families with the most livestock will be in the back, and those with the least in the front. Why do the buildings get bigger going from the front of the corral to the back? Another status gradient: the livestock are toward the front and humans toward the back. And it is for that same reason that the altar is toward the back in the smallest scale, and the chief's family village is toward the back at the largest scale.
Can you guess the purpose of the square building at center?
The square building is the village altar. It is the site of both religious and political authority; it is the location for rituals which generate cycles of agricultural fertility and ancestral succession. Again the self-generating geometic algorithm of the architecture reflects a self-generating concept of society.
African fractals continue to evolve in today’s society. In Africa, they are present in professional studio art, in large-scale public art works (such as on the facade of the University of Dakar library), and even the undistinguished sellers of tourist art, who occasionally produce creations that involve fractal characteristics. In the U.S., architect Bernard Tsuchmi has experimented with the software you are using to design a modern art museum in New York City. Fractals also continue in modern African architecture. In collaboration with African American architect David Hughes, Alex Nyangula at Copperbelt University in Zambia used a fractal branching pattern to create the beautiful design above that fuses Indigenous and modern forms of African architecture.
The Kitwe design has lots of potential for expansion. But the expansion is limited if the shape intersects itself. This one itersects itself in the 5th iteration. See if you can change the design so that it will achieve higher iterations before self-intersection.