How City Life Transformed Ghana’s Compound Houses

Compund House

For decades, when people built themselves new homes in Ghana’s capital, Accra, you could be pretty sure it would be a compound house.

These mini-complexes of houses — grouped around shaded courtyards set back from the street — were the building blocks of modern Accrabringing together extended families that had migrated from the countryside. The compound offered close kinship connections and semi-private space, even in the heart of the big city.

But more recently, these complexes have experienced a change in character and status. As international-style apartments and villas for nuclear families become the preferred housing type, the compound houses are increasingly being divided into smaller, tighter rooms, mixing strangers together and becoming places for poorer tenants with few options.

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