The Watch

Kampala Historic Buildings

Kampala, Uganda

2004 World Monuments Watch

In just over a century, the Ugandan city of Kampala experienced change on a scale rarely seen in an urban context. From its beginnings as the seat of a powerful kingdom in the 1880s, the city witnessed colonial domination, subsequent independence, decades of civil unrest, and, most recently, a period of relative calm, each period bringing with it waves of immigration. This colorful and sometimes turbulent history brought with it a diversity in the city’s inhabitants that is reflected in the variety of its architectural legacy – a rich fabric of chiefly vernacular structures, often of great character and individual appeal. Although many of Kampala’s most interesting and important historic buildings have survived, many have deteriorated considerably due to lack of maintenance. However, Uganda has now entered a period of increasing prosperity that has brought with it sweeping change in the city’s urban landscape, most notably in the demolition and “improvement” of historic buildings. In such a climate, ignorance of the value of Kampala’s architectural heritage is the most serious threat to the city’s future. If present circumstances persist – with no official register or effective planning control – Kampala’s historic urban assets will soon be decimated. Lack of financial resources and insufficient profile have limited the influence of preservationists on those who are developing the city’s land and properties for private gain. Last update: 2004

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