Architecture is a unique component of a country's culture just as much as its language, music, art, literature or food. Architecture is also the most visual of those cultural components; the pyramids in Egypt, skyscrapers in New York, a temple in Japan, and onion domes in Russia all convey a unique image. This is called “genius loci,” the “spirit of a place”. Every country has its own genius loci, its own uniqueness. Vernacular architecture is composed of local materials and derived from local customs, techniques that have been passed on from generation to generation. But vernacular architecture in most (if not all) African countries is disappearing, being abandoned for western materials and techniques. There are many reasons why this is occurring, but the main reason is the biggest myth of vernacular architecture: the negative perceptions attached to the term. Whereas Western materials and construction techniques are seen as correct, modern, permanent, and for the affluent, the vernacular is viewed as substandard, outdated, temporary, or for the poor. These views are not only the ones of Western societies, but more importantly the beliefs of people in Africa as well.
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