The African Dwelling

From Traditional to Western Style Homes


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About the Book

Housing has changed in Sub-Saharan Africa since the Europeans arrived. Africans no longer live in traditional homes. This historical transition from “hut to house,” from traditional to Western style, reflects slavery, colonialism and other social influences.
This book focuses on Cameroon, known as “Africa in Miniature” because of its geographical and cultural representation of the continent at large. Architectural styles, materials and construction techniques are discussed within a larger context, examining how lifestyle changes and architectural trends influence each other. This work is a rich examination of the challenges and opportunities for a new generation of African architects to integrate the lessons of the past and create a future more responsive to the region’s needs.

About the Author(s)

Epée Ellong teaches African Architecture at the Ecole Supérieure Spéciale d’Architecture du Cameroun in Yaounde, Cameroon. In 1988, he was published in Présence Africaine on the use of urban space in African funeral ceremonies. While working in the U.S. as an architect, he spoke regularly at universities and at the Museum for African Art.
Diane Chehab is an American project manager and former architectural designer. She lived in Cameroon from 1981 to 1993, and between 2015 and 2016. She writes about Africa on her blog, Away From Africa.

Bibliographic Details

Epée Ellong with Diane Chehab
Foreword by Jack Travis
Format: softcover (7 x 10)
Pages: 231
Bibliographic Info: 181 photos, 8 maps, notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2019
pISBN: 978-1-4766-7380-6
eISBN: 978-1-4766-3489-0
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix
Foreword (Jack Travis) 1
Preface (Epée Ellong) 3
Introduction 5
1. Hut of Congo, Hut of Cameroon 9
Sudanian-Sahelian Historical Band 9
Guinean Historical Band 10
Equatorial-Southern Historical Band 11
Eastern Historical Band 11
Architectural Links 11
2. Traditional Dwellings of Cameroon 17
Thatch Architecture 18
Straw Architecture 38
Architecture of Raffia Braids 90
3. Colonial Dwellings 125
The Encounter of the “Hut” and the Modern “Villa” 125
The Colonial House 129
From “Hut” to “Villa” 140
4. Directions for an Architecture 147
Transformations from Hut to Modern Home 149
The Architect and the “Villa” 161
Materials for an Architecture 173
A Hut for an Architecture 178
5. Death and the Dwelling 190
Chapter Notes 207
Bibliography 214
Index 215