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Old 11-15-2010, 06:25 AM   Post #7
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Agudás from Benin : "Brazilian Identity as a Bridge to Citizenship" ~ link (only partial preview, unfortunately, but includes several pages)

From Traditional Residential Architecture to the Vernacular : The Nigerian Experience ~ link


The African continent is extremely diverse in culture – despite its comparatively small geographical size. Correspondingly, its indigenous architecture is far from homogeneous, and even though, all over the continent there are outstanding examples of what may be termed international-style architecture, for that very reason, they are far from being representative of the people’s folk building culture.

Most of the literature available to a global reading public on the subject-matter, has been produced by non-Africans, and from frequently non-architectural perspectives; as such, they may not fully capture the socio-cultural/ socio-spatial import of African builtform. African architects are yet to convincingly define what constitutes architecture in their own contemporary local contexts, and showcase it.

The paper focuses on Nigeria’s residential building culture. It examines the influences of British colonial architectural practices and the Afro-Brazilian style (which they facilitated), on the traditional architecture of the south. It sets forth the transition to vernacular practices and the transformations engendered – particularly in the light of rural, semi-urban and highly-urbanized variants. It is submitted that what comes closest to a vernacular prototype, is a floor-plan comprising four rooms or more, directly opening out on to an exaggerated centrally-positioned corridor, with conveniences and utilities to the back of the house. Architectural embellishment, initially highly ornate in the original Afro-Brazilian stylistic prototype, has become extremely minimal. “Meaning”, both in its functional and symbolic contexts, is presented as being inherent in both the traditional and vernacular expressions of Nigerian architecture, north and south of the country. Of necessity, such meanings are also undergoing transformation, and are culturally-determined.

The paper queries the rationale behind expecting there to be an “African architecture” – as there are no other continental parallels. Rather, where stereotypes do exist, they are either culture-based, or pertain to a limited geographical location – not a continental sprawl. As such, the paper submits that African architecture should be appraised from the view-point of such pre-disposing phenomena as cultural background, or/ and socio-physical factors generating such – as is the case with the architecture of other regions of the world.
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