AFRICAN TRADITIONAL ARCHITECTURE
African traditional architecture can be dated back to early times, sometimes referred to as vernacular architecture, has demonstrated how architecture is designed to respond to society’s needs and at the same time to be sensitive to it’s environment.
To the same degree that the continent boosts diversity in climatic conditions, regions, peoples and traditions, these differences are accommodated in it’s architecture.
The designs of buildings that were found across Africa ranged from the windbreakers used as shelters by the Bushmen; the simple round n beehive huts made of flexible branches and covered with leaves, made by the Pygmies, to the circular huts with conical roofs called home by the agricultural peoples that live on the grasslands.
African architecture was also defined by the religious and social order of the people. This was evident in the temporary nature of the buildings. Permanent housing would have been an embarrassment for many people, for example the bushman; the migrant pastoralist, such as the Fulani and the Masni; or the people who practiced land rotation and moved from place to place every four years. The lifestyles and the social customs necessitated that the houses changed to suite the social arrangements of the people.
Another factor that affected the architecture is the climatic conditions of the area, the lack of or the abundance of rainfall, the desert, semi- desert, the high forests, and the grasslands. Houses were made to protect from the scorching sun, the range in temperature between day and night, and areas where houses had to withstand heavy rainfall.
The architectural designs were also distinctive, and this distinction was decided by the location of the major rivers. Each river basin had several distinctive building characteristics. There were no evidence of specially trained architects, much of the information and building designs were passed down from generation to generation by word of mouth. The building of the houses were a community affair where every one gave their assistance, and the only renumeration was a feast.
The architecture was adapted to suite the needs of the groups. The houses that were erected reflected the style worked out by the community, and perfected over many generations. As a result of this there did not exist any homogeneous material culture, or house plan throughout Africa.
The sampling of African architecture produced many technology, from the shape and method of construction, to the ornaments used to distinguish the roles in construction between men and women.