Ghanaian Architecture

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Rethinking the Roles of Small-Scale Informal Wood Industries in Tropical Africa

Tropical Africa boasts vast forests that cover 3.6 million square kilometers of land in West, East, and Central Africa. These forests provide valuable timber resources that significantly impact sectors, such as the furniture, fuel, and paper industries. However, interestingly, timber is seemingly absent in the contemporary architecture of the countries in this region. While architectural taste plays a role, the main reasons for this absence can be attributed to the wood industries' inability to meet the requirements of availability, affordability, aesthetic appeal, durability, and climatic and structural performance of timber. The wood industry in tropical Africa is mainly composed of informal and small-scale operations, focused primarily on sawing logs rather than refining wood for architectural or structural purposes. Despite this, the large number of informal enterprises in the region presents an opportunity to reshape the wood industry and utilize the local forestry resources to construct timber buildings.

Motifs and Ornamentations: Inspirations Behind the Colors of African Traditional Architecture

African societies' cultures are intrinsically linked to color. From fabrics to clothing, products, sculptures, and architecture, various societies explore rich and vibrant colors that are vivid, expressive, and joyful. Through different shades, hues, contrasts, motifs, and ornamentations, colors are embraced as an unspoken language, a palette for storytelling, and a sense of cultural identity. Although the use of color in African societies may seem decorative on the surface, it is extremely symbolic, with a deep sense of history behind it. Traditional African architecture is a prime example. Ethnic societies have endowed their homes with color through ornaments and motifs, expressed it with religious and cultural patterns, employed it on facades to tell familial stories, and created labyrinths of communal architecture that not only celebrate color but explore its ethnic meaning.

Willow Technologies Transforms Agricultural By-Products Into Building Materials in Ghana

Willow Technologies is a material research and building technology practice that has been selected as part of ArchDaily's 2023 Best New Practices. Founded by Ghanaian-Filipino designer and architectural scientist Mae-Ling Lokko, it operates in the gap between research, development, and diffusion of bio-based building materials. Working with agro-waste and bio-based materials usually incurs technical questions regarding scalability, industrial production, standardization, fireproofing, and mechanical strength. Exploring this data is where Willow Technologies situates itself, but peculiarly through the lens of developing regions in West Africa. Through comprehensive works with coconuts, moringa, rice, and other indigenous crops, Lokko’s practice has been able to investigate and catalog the material character of various crops, their possible by-products, local transformation techniques, and the prospect and challenges of scalability as building materials.

The Painted Houses of Tiébélé: A Model for Communal Collaboration

In the south of Burkina Faso, sharing borders with the northern environs of Ghana is Tiébélé; a small village exhibiting fractal patterns of circular and rectangular buildings, housing one of the oldest ethnic groups in West Africa; the Kassena tribe. With vernacular houses dating back to the 15th century, the village’s buildings strike a distinctive character through its symbol-laden painted walls. It is an architecture of wall decoration where the community uses their building envelope as a canvas for geometric shapes and symbols of local folklore, expressing the culture’s history and unique heritage. This architecture is the product of a unique form of communal collaboration, where all men and women in the community are tasked with contributing to the construction and finishing of any new house. This practice serves as a transmission point for Kassena culture across generations.

Defining Afro-Contemporary Homes: The Role of Case Study Houses

The home is a fundamental expression of architectural movements within the fabric of a city. As one of the smallest typologies, it is the simplest canvas to exhibit the design ethos of any particular era. African cities have continuously negotiated the meaning of their residential dwellings, from traditional architecture to colonial architecture, and the influx of post-colonial modern architecture. Vernacular architecture explored homes with spatial patterns rooted in cultural dexterity, envelopes built with indigenous materials and forms, endowed with traditional motifs. These were in stark contrast to colonial homes that featured a range of imported architectural styles across the continent, neglecting their climatic and cultural contexts while amplifying social class.

The Architectural Identity of the State House

Known as the state house, the presidential palace, and an assortment of other terms — the building that hosts a country’s seat of government is usually quite architecturally striking. Frequently opulent, grand, and sometimes imposing, the state house is intended to function as a visually distinct marker of a nation — an extension of a state’s identity. In the African continent, a landmass that had seen a significant part of it colonized by European nations, this identity of statehood, in an architectural sense, is complex.

ArchDaily Selects the Best New Practices of 2023

25 practices, sole practitioners, and startups from 5 continents and 18 countries have been chosen as part of the 2023 New Practices, the latest edition of the global annual survey by ArchDaily. Ongoing since 2020, the review detects and showcases those who are taking architecture in its new direction under unstable times and demanding challenges.

The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition Opens to the Public with an Exploration of the World's Mysteries

The 23rd Triennale Milano International Exhibition has officially opened its doors to the public today. Titled Unknown Unknowns. An Introduction to Mysteries, the Triennale is displaying a selection of artwork and installations designed by 400 international architects and designers, questioning "what we don’t know we don’t know". Celebrating 100 years since its foundation, this year's exhibition presents a new way of looking at the mysteries of the world, seeing it as an opportunity to investigate subjects such as the furthest universe to dark matter and the origin of our conscience.

A Recyclable and Modular Housing Complex in India and A Secluded Cliff House in Iran: 8 Unbuilt Residential Projects Submitted to ArchDaily

This week’s curated selection of Best Unbuilt Architecture highlights residential projects submitted by the ArchDaily community. From a small community-dwelling in Ghana to a villa tucked under a hillside in Portugal, this roundup of unbuilt projects explores how architects react to various site topographies, cultures, and material availability when designing spaces that provide more than shelter to their users. The article also includes projects from India, Iran, Ireland, Latvia, Georgia, and Saudi Arabia.

World Monuments Fund Announces 25 Endangered Heritage and Cultural Sites for 2022

The World Monuments Fund has released its 2022 World Monuments Watch list, a selection of 25 sites from across the globe that hold great cultural and heritage significance but are being faced with economic, political or natural threats. This year's selection highlights themes of global issues such as climate change, imbalanced tourism, underrepresentation, and recovery from crisis, urging for prompt preservation plans.

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