Architecture & Housing construction: uganda can have its own unique structural designs

Architecture & Housing construction: uganda can have its own unique structural designs

One of the most distinguishing characteristics of a nation or a people that defines its cultural identity and sets it apart from others is the architectural designs of its buildings. For instance the Chinese architecture is so unique and distinctive that no one can mistake it with another nations’ cultural housing setting. The Roman Empire was renowned for its magnificent and complicated architecture that stood for centuries. Housing defines what a nation and its people are. It defines the welfare and standard of living of such people. It is one of the most important ways of preserving cultural values.

Architecture grows as does any other human endeavor. Construction of buildings changes as time passes with many adopting new methods that are mainly modern although most nations tend to maintain their housing cultural identity. In Africa, more so Sub Saharan Africa, housing has transcended from traditional natural caves that during the primitive stages of civilization, to buildings made of straws, soil, wattle, and thatched with grass during pre-colonial and post-independence period. The advent of colonialism brought with it what was termed as modern architecture originating from the colonizing country. Just like in many spheres, the colonialists embarked on a journey to introduce their architectural styles in the conquered territories. No wonder, consequently, all African countries tended to adopt the colonial master’s way of constructing houses, slowly negating their traditional methods.

Suffice to note therefore that Uganda’s architectural housing design in the strict sense follows that of the British who were the colonial masters of this country. With time, the cultural identity for most countries has been disorderly, confused and mixed up. Although some architects kept the fight to preserve the traditional touch in housing, this with time, has been consistently eroded. What remains are buildings that cannot be placed anywhere in terms of originality and ingenuity. It is possible that someone could easily fail to distinguish the between the typical towns of Africa simply because they all possess similar characteristics in terms of building set up. One may not easily differentiate a picture taken of the town of Uromi in Nigeria and Mbarara in Uganda. They look similar in setting and architecture partly because of the colonial history that both countries share.

Quality architecture is expensive. With low levels of income for most countries, one of the first things that have suffered compromise is quality housing. The houses that are being constructed today are lacking in strength and durability. We must however not be deluded to think that money is the most fundamental factor in putting up magnificent architecture. It is far more than funds. The Greek and the Romans of yester years did not have much resources but they managed to construct buildings that the world continue to marvel at. The skills that were developed over the years and passed on across generations were highly guarded and could not be allowed to be lost easily.

Architecture is much more that what can be taught in school. It is a tradition that ought to be passed on from one generation to another. School education can only be a complement, but never a replacement. In the last fifty years of Uganda’s Independence, the housing style has been undergoing so many changes and adaptations, most of them not envious. It is estimated that the housing style lasts up to a maximum of ten years before new architecture emerges. Similarly the houses especially the residential ones that are being constructed today have a maximum lifespan of approximately fifty years only. This in essence means that the country shall be in perpetual construction mode. Isn’t it about time that Uganda started seriously thinking about developing and promoting its own architecture and building houses that are unique to the country? These, as stated above, need not be expensive. What is missing is to start on a strategy through which this can be achieved. Together, let’s revive the Ugandan housing architecture for our own cultural heritage enhancement and development.