Housing and culture in Ghana
A model for research and evidence-based design.
ABSTRACT: This research paper investigates the relationship between history, culture and housing and proposes design solutions which begin to address the notion of home for Akan residents of Accra. The research analyzes work done by historians who documented how Akan people in Ghana traditionally used space. The paper uses Amos Rapoport’s model of the dismantling of ‘culture’ as a framework for this analysis. It juxtaposes this historical notion of space against current urban issues in housing such as resident satisfaction, multi-habitation and density and over-crowding within the city. The analysis of these texts is supplemented by primary investigations conducted in Ghana. The paper concludes by showing how this cultural research can be used as a design strategy to develop new ways of looking at qualities of space, materials and sustainability principles for housing in Accra by describing case studies which have attempted to bridge this gap between research and evidence-based design. The examples presented in the paper show that it is possible to use this material to develop housing that is at once modern but also steeped in traditional and cultural notions of the home. The hope is that this approach can lead to innovative ways of thinking about affordable housing with increased resident satisfaction. The research presented in this paper also provides material for those architects aiming to utilize similar methods to translate cultural and historical research into a design strategy for housing.
KEYWORDS: Ghana, Housing, Culture, Evidence-Based Design