Architecture is the activity of designing and constructing buildings and other physical structures, primarily done to provide socially purposeful shelter. Architectural works are perceived as cultural and political symbols and works of art. Historical civilisations are often known primarily through their architectural achievements such as the pyramids of Egypt and the Roman Colosseum. These are cultural symbols, and are an important link in public consciousness. Cities, regions and cultures continue to identify and known themselves with their architectural monuments
As with most architectural traditions elsewhere, African architecture has been subject to numerous external influences from the earliest periods for which evidence is available. Western architecture has also had an impact on coastal areas since the late 15th century, and is now an important source for many larger buildings, particularly in major cities.
Sahel-Sudanese architecture initially grew from the two cities of Djenné and Timbuktu in Mali. The Sankore Mosque in Timbuktu, constructed from mud on timber, was similar in style to the Great Mosque of Djenné.
French colonial architecture was inspired by the much-admired local Sudanese style, with French housing and public buildings in Bamako and Ségou showing an interesting mixture of Western, Moroccan, and Sudanese styles.
The urban evolution of Bamako city, like most modern African cities, presents the dilemma of modernity and tradition. Leading factors of this trend are characterised by extension of the city through rapid urbanisation.