HOW THEY’RE MADE: TRADITIONAL BUILDING SYSTEMS – SOUTH-WEST NIGERIA

MATERIALS

In this region, building materials typically fall into four groups:

Earth

The geological composition of the soil made the use of mud in the building construction possible. There are abundant dark-grey and dark brown laterite soils in Yoruba land. The quantity needed each time for the preparation of mud for the walling and fencing of their houses was dug up for use.

 

 

Plant Materials

The vegetation in Yoruba land is basically thick rain-forest from where the people were able to obtain the necessary building materials such as forked wood, the raffia and oil palm tree leaves, large leaves, ropes, etc. The forked wood was used as the load bearing element in the building construction. The forked wood was very useful in two other areas; it dictated the rectangular form of the houses which the people learned to handle and the issue of demountability of any part or the whole of a construction posed little or no problem to the builders. With the availability of palm trees and raffia palm, the people were able to produce roofing mats with the leaves. The ribs of the raffia palm leaves and sticks that were obtained from the forest were used as rafters and purlins. On the other hand, the ropes of various kind obtained from the forest were used to tie the above named elements at their either meeting or at crossing points.

WOODEN CARYATID POST SUPPORTING EAVES – Image Courtesy ZR Dmochowski

 

 

CARVED DOOR MADE FROM OVERLAPPING PLANKS – Image Courtesy ZR Dmochowski

 

 

 

CONSTRUCTION

The Earth dug up and plant materials were used in three different ways in South-West Nigeria:

Block Wall system – which involves the production of bricks from this dug-up earth

Wattle and Daub – which is a composite building material used for making walls, in which a woven lattice of wooden strips called wattle is daubed with a sticky material usually made of some combination of wet soil, clay, sand, animal dung and straw.

Wattle in Construction

Rammed Earth – involves compressing a damp mixture of earth that has suitable proportions of sand, gravel and clay (sometimes with an added stabilizer) into an externally supported frame or mould, creating either a solid wall of earth or individual blocks.

 

Typical Two-room house with rammed earth walls

 

References:

Primary reference:

Dmochowski Z.R.                               An introduction to Nigerian Traditional Architecture

Ethnographica Ltd., London 1990, 3 vols

S.O. Izomoh                                        Nigerian Traditional Architecture

S.M.O. Aka and Brothers Press, Benin City 1994

Further Study:

Unde, Robert.T                                  Form And The Visual Dialogue In Architecture (with reflections on architectural expressiveness)

Bsc. (Arch) thesis Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria. 1986.

Curry, Tim                                          Countries and their cultures

http://www.everyculture.com/Ma-Ni/index.html

 

Kevin Butler                                      Yoruba Architecture

http://ant3145yoruba.wikispaces.com/Architecture

Wikipedia                                           Rammed Earth

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rammed_earth

Wattle and Daub

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wattle_and_daub

African Legacy – School of Conservation Sciences, Bournemouth University

http://csweb.bournemouth.ac.uk/africanlegacy/orile_owu.htm

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s