Featured Image Source: Issa Michuzi, Under Any use, https://sw.wikipedia.org/wiki/Picha:Dar_Ikulu-tz.jpg
Ikulu is the State House of the United Republic of Tanzania and the official residence and office of the president. The building sits at the mouth of the natural harbour on the edge of the Indian ocean. The building sits in Dar es Salaam the former capital of Tanzania.
The building like many important political buildings in Africa was built by the colonial government, the British in Tanzania’s case, and not by the Tanzanian government. The building was built in 1922 by the English architect, John Sinclair. John Sinclair designed a number of buildings in Tanzania like the High Court and the Bharmal Building. The building was commissioned by Horace Byatt after the British had taken Tanganyika from the Germans. The building was built on the ruins of a German building that the British royal navy had destroyed.
The building is interesting for its architecture. It is built in an Arabic and African style, this is noteworthy because most British built state houses and parliaments are built in a style that refers back to Britain. This mix of Arabic and African architecture styles can also be referred to as the Swahili style, referring to the language, people and cultures that exists on the east coast of Africa, like Dar es Salaam. The most important stylistic features of the building are the pointed arch doors and windows, the white colour of the exterior walls and the decoration on the wall roof joint, which are also pointed arches. Like many Swahili buildings, there are also influences from Hindu architecture like the arches on the lower floors of the entrance. This all gives the building a uniquely African quality which fits in well with the oldest buildings of Dar es Salaam.
The building complex is made up of 6 distinct buildings which are all connected via a small corridor. The buildings South wing was added in 1956 to honour the visit of Princess Margaret, this whing also bears her name. The building was built as an administrative building, named Government house, during colonial times for British Tanganyika. It was renamed after independence. The central building is also the largest and tallest. On the north side, there are then 3 buildings, on the south 2. The buildings are all roofed with red-brownish tiles that are all hipped roofs. This gives the building a low profile. The building’s floors are African terrazzo, it is a mixture of chips of hard stone, like granite mixed with cement. This gives the floor a shiny glaze.
The main entrance of the building is denoted with a large fortress-like tower. The can see one monumental pathway going roughly East West. In the middle of this pathway sits the central building. The complex sits in between 3 roads namely, Barack Obama drive, Luthuli road and Magogni street. The building looks out to the Indian Ocean on the East side and towards the city centre and harbour on the West side.
The building stands as one of the most recognizable landmarks of democracy in Dar es Salaam and Tanzania. Its architecture refers back to the classical styles of the East coast which allows the building to look as if it has stood there since Dar es Salaam was founded by Majid bin Said of Zanzibar in 1865. The building is one of the most important political buildings in Tanzania and many official events and meetings happen within its walls. A palace of democracy on the Indian Ocean.