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Continuity, Utility and Change: The Urban Compound House in Ghana

Summary of Article

As early as the fifteenth century, when Europeans first established a credible presence in Ghana, colonial values have influenced lifestyles in the country. Despite these imported influences, the courtyard house remains the predominant house form in both rural and urban Ghana. This particularly versatile style of house however, receives little attention within academic and policy-making circles. In this paper, the authors focus on the built form of the urban courtyard house and examine its utilitarian qualities from a predominantly architectural viewpoint. The courtyard house, consisting of a series of rooms opening off to a central courtyard, is the most widely occupied house in contemporary Ghana. Afram and Korboe track the morphology of the typical Ghanaian home, using archeological and anthropological documentation, to the exportation of rudimentary model to urban areas. Examinations of design and space utilization issues reveal cost-effective and utility maximizing features of the courtyard house, suggesting possible futures for the courtyard house.