This lecture focuses on the House of Wonders, a grand palatial and administrative center standing on the waterfront of Zanzibar City, which now is part of the nation state of Tanzania and once acted as an important Swahili coast center of maritime trade and exchange for centuries. In many ways the patron and builders of the House of Wonders drew on ancient local and Indian Ocean architectural precedents, but they also fused them with forms from the North Atlantic world, especially those first popularized in the Crystal Palace. The House of Wonders was meant to give both locals and newcomers the sense that Zanzibar was a center of power and cosmopolitan sophistication that was not only on par with places like London or Cairo, but superseded them in cultural ingenuity and playful transcultural fusion.
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