As the population of Ghana’s capital expanded in the late 19th century, residents recreated the communal homes they knew from the countryside — an architectural template that endured for more than 100 years. These mini-complexes of houses, grouped around shaded courtyards set back from the street, were the building blocks of modern Accra, keeping together extended families who migrated to the city from rural areas. As international-style apartments and villas for nuclear families become the preferred housing type over time, the compound houses are increasingly being divided into smaller, tighter rooms, mixing strangers together and becoming places for poorer tenants with few options. No one wants to preserve crowded conditions. But in some ways, the community focus and architecture of the compound house could provide inspiration for future housing in Ghana.
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