From Vernacular to Modern

Transitioning East African Traditional House Design to Contemporary

  • Maureen Wangui Wanjiku
Keywords: Contemporary, Current trend, House design, Traditional African, Vernacular African


Looking at the present from the perspective of the past is not a new idea (Kamenju, 2013). This paper involves insights into the traditional house design transition in East Africa. It entails the process of development of African house design from traditional design to contemporary design. The paper discusses a brief background of African traditional house designs. Using desk study methods, it analyzed in depth - from a design perspective - three key cases of three East African communities; the Agikuyu of Kenya, the Swahili of Kenya and Tanzania, and the Buganda of Uganda. From the research, it is evident that East African architecture has evolved and has been influenced by foreign cultures. However, significant African elements still remain a testimony to the enduring nature of East African traditions. The traditional African houses play a significant role when it comes to trying to understand African roots. It is extremely important that East Africans embrace and uphold traditional houses and get inspiration from them.