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Ecological architecture of indigenes-remedy to climate change

Published 11th December 2010 - 19 comments - 4385 views -

It’s existed for so many years from generations to the present generation, an ecological architecture that places and positions the minds of indigenous people of the northern Ghana the need to protect, and preserve the environment.
“Sound, clean environment is wealth and health” my dad once told me. After so many years of hearing this statement now that I have understood what the statement means and why he prevented people from burning the bush.

We called it green living or ecological architecture. Africans have always been ecologically conscious, and with maybe climate change in mind have passed on ecological architecture to this generation. Probably that is why you still see particularly in northern Ghana round huts buildings even in the center of the city-Tamale though city authorities are now advocating storey buildings that are in conformity with modern city planning structure.

Huts (mixture of mud), roofed with thatch, plaster with cow dung and painted with natural paint made from dawadaw plant! Its cooler, lovely and naturally ventilated, traps and stores fresh air. Experience!

The building of huts is simple and skillful. To build a hut you will need skillful local architects and builders, quality gravel and mud which is quality but porous in nature and or not too compact gravel and mud mixture, quality water and strong and skillful mixers. Simple tools such as hoes, axes are used to dig out gravels and mud, and pots to store water.

Ecological community in northern Ghana
 It takes less than four days to complete a hut. It is also possible to complete a hut in a day or two but there is always the need to allow courses to dry up and grip well on each other to prevent it from falling. Note with scorching sun that we have in northern Ghana it is possible to complete a hut in a day or two.

The huts are ecological buildings, specially designed to trap fresh air, it does not emit or radiate heat neither does it conserve heat. Its cold inside always and at all times and well ventilated though it does not have widows. The thatch used to roof the huts serves air strainer so the air inside the hut is clean and freshly cool.

The African architects used very highly quality sand and mud to construct their building. The mud and sand are mixed with water and sometimes cow dung to give the “mortar” very quality texture. Note cow dung has qualities of cement from lime stones. There are some many architectural drawings but the most commonly ones are the round and square plans. The round or oval type is meant for chiefs and wealthy persons in society while the square ones adopted from the colonial masters are for young and not too old. This explained why prominent chiefs in Northern Ghana palaces are constructed with mud mostly round huts roofed with thatch. Chiefs are not supposed to be seen outside unless during special occasions or festivals. Huts provide them conducive atmosphere to stay indoors for longer times with stresses.

Roofing: The huts are either roofed with thatch or special long grasses such elephant grasses, or covered with mud “concrete” at the roof tops (most popular in Upper West and East region of northern Ghana). With Concrete roofing style, hard woods are uses to support the walls, to prevent the walls of the building from collapse. The pressure on top of the building does not rest on the walls too much. People sleep on top of the roofing during warm seasons or times one wants to be all alone or in pairs to discuss important family issues.

Its lovely when newly married couples decide to use it for their private conversation, or when they want to experience quality freshly cool evening air. The modern architects called “summer hut”. The roof tops also provide one a wonderful sight seeing adventure eeeh, this sounds good for tourists’ right!

Cow dung: cow dung is mostly grasses and water resistant when properly dry. It is used to plaster or coat behind the huts to prevent rains from destroying the walls. This keeps the huts stronger and long standing for years. As it were it needs regular maintenance say once in every year or two. It does not smell bad at all. Natural paint: after extracting dawadawa seeds the chaff is kept in boiling pot soak in water and kept on fire to boil for at least three to five hours. The water turns shining brown pour to left cold down then use to paint inside the huts walls. This makes the huts warmer a bite and brightens the walls inside. It is all this that makes indigenes to desist from burning and destruction of environment. Two years now the Duunyin community which is currently among those indigenes practicing ecological living never burnt bushes around them. This architecture is a remedy to climate change and global warming mitigation and adaptation in Ghana.

Posted by Npong Balikawu Francis at

Category: Climate Reporting, | Tags:


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