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Traditional Earth Houses in Vittin, Tamale: Identity and perception of the tradition-modernity conflict.

Irene Appeaning Addo


The tension between tradition and modernity extends into African traditional architecture. The desire to become modern is pushing people to change from the climate suitable traditional houses found in the Northern Region of Ghana. The study sought to explore the influence of modernity on traditional buildings in Vittin, a peri-urban community in the Tamale municipality. Using focus group discussions and photography, the study explored some of the tradition-modernity tensions that exist in African traditional architecture. Although respondents associated identity and tradition with the round earth houses built in the past, they explained that in contemporary times urbanisation, status, economic issues, sustainability and the sense of belongingness were push factors for change. The research concludes that conscious effort needs to be made for earth constructed houses to be sustainable otherwise the technology will completely disappear and this may impact the traditional beliefs and practices of the people. It is proposed that there is the need to relook at traditional architecture to make them durable and sustainable and the indigenous knowledge and architecture of the people need to be documented.

Keywords: African Architecture, Tradition, Modernity, Identity.

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print ISSN: 2343-6530