Ghana has a unique blend of ancient and modern architecture, influenced by its illustrious history and the ideas of brilliant minds who memorialised various epochs in the walls of some of the buildings.
Traditional Ghanaian architecture was driven by the raw material available for buildings, such as thatch for roofing and mud and wood for walls.
Today, such buildings are rare, although modern architects try to borrow some of their elements when designing and constructing buildings.
Joelle Eyeson, a co-founder of Hive Earth, has explained how her company has been able to produce a newly updated mud house which could be the future of African.
About Hive Earth
Hive Earth is an eco-housing company which is based in Accra, Ghana and established in 2016.
The idea of this construction firm is to give Ghanaians affordable and eco-friendly housing. The construction firm also intends to build houses that workers and the majority of Ghanaians and West Africans can afford.
A prototype of Joelle Eyeson’s firm’s ‘rammed earth’ will be ready by the end of the year and it will cost roughly $5,000 for a one-room house.
Locally sourced materials such as clay, laterite and granite chippings which are abundantly available in West Africa are used in building these houses.
The company is still trying to get to a stage where it will build without using cement because it is very toxic.
Joelle Eyeson explains that Ghana’s climate combines both heat and humidity, therefore it will be inappropriate to use cement because it may create a bad indoor air quality.
The company uses the idea of underground cooling systems. They dig around 8 feet or more until they get to the cool air underground. Then use a solar pump which is constantly bringing the cool air into the home. Then it is only the cost of the solar pump (around $300) which people need to pay and there are no bills.
Housing challenges in Ghana
There is a need for around 2 million new houses in Ghana per year. However, most of the building is concentrated in the capital Accra, where land is very expensive.
The other issue is that when more houses are built in rural areas, housing prices naturally rise.
The ‘rammed earth’ technique
The rammed earth technique is a mixture of laterite, clay and then granite chippings.
5 percent of cement was used to bind it. Lime is used too. The technique is basically like the building traditional mud house but updated.
According to Joelle Eyeson, the ‘rammed earth’ is a tried and tested technique that’s been around for centuries. Parts of the Great Wall of China were even built with rammed earth.
The future of Hive Earth
Hive Earth currently builds for only for individuals. However, the management looks forward to bringing eco-housing into bigger housing projects and estates.
The company further looks forward to organising more workshops with local communities, helping to teach them the skills of building with rammed earth.