Westernization in sub-Saharan Africa : facing loss of culture, knowledge, and environment

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Montana State University - Bozeman, College of Arts & Architecture


Sub-Saharan Africa faces many challenges; among them is the struggle to westernize. But is westernization really the answer for this large 'third world' population? Westernization has stripped many of the cultures that make up sub-Saharan Africa of their knowledge bases, knowledge of tradition, and pride in culture. The principles behind International architecture indicate to this part of the world that the way they are living (with sensitivity to earth, season, and hardship) is uncivilized. That instead of grass huts that can be rebuilt if a drought causes a family to move, they must build multi-story buildings in town centers, out of concrete in order to be considered civilized. Instead, the loss of this pride in culture can be reversed. This thesis investigated whether or not architecture can be created in this third world region that gives thought to aesthetics, environment, culture and socio-economic situation; Can a building in sub-Saharan Africa be constructed for more than just the function of shelter, no matter what the aesthetic costs? Can it be functional, affordable, easily constructed and take into account design aesthetic? A new generation of architecture can emerge in Africa: a generation of sustainable, aesthetically sensitive buildings that educate inhabitants about their heritage and environment; a generation of architecture that begins to return pride in culture and heritage to populations in grave danger of losing knowledge of both.




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