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Architecture: A Home Built in Celebration of Love

Joe Osae-Addo [Ghana]

African Architecture - Joe Osae-Addo home in Ghana

[Image credit: dwell/Dook – September 2007]

Building your own house is a dream for many and it is always so interesting to see what people come up with, spanning the range of beautifully inspired interiors to what were they thinking. Whilst browsing one of my favourite blogs – alifemorefabulous – I came across the stunning and innovative home of Ghanaian-born architect Joe Osae-Addo and was immediately struck by the abundant use of natural materials and how open, light and airy the space is. Osae-Addo’s home is a showcase of contemporary African architecture at its best.

I just had to dig a little deeper and found out that this was ultimately a home built in celebration of love and a testimony to a couple building a life together. Having trained in London, Joe practised in the UK, Finland and USA; and it was whilst living in Los Angeles that on a visit to Ghana in 2000 he first met his now wife, Sara Asafu-Adjaye who was living in London at the time. After embarking on a long-distance relationship Joe suggested they build a house together on a piece of land given to him by his mother in Accra, and wanted to do so as a way of cementing their relationship.

Joe Osae-Addo interiors

[Image credits: dwell/Dook – September 2007]

The couple initially designed the house long distance; sending ideas, sketches and comments back and forth before beginning construction in 2003 and eventually completing the house in Autumn 2004, by which point they had made the move back to Ghana. In designing their home Joe was inspired by the design aesthetics of Finland’s Alvar Aalto, Australia’s Glenn Murcutt, and L.A.’s Ray Kappe and sought to apply their lessons to Ghana and overcome the local urban norm for concrete blockhouses first introduced by the English. Inspired by the natural surroundings Joe also sought to harness the natural elements: trees, wind, sun, and water to create a harmonious environment. 

Joe Osae-Addo Exterior and Interior

[Image credit: dwell/Dook – September 2007]

Inspired by both colonial English bungalows and the courtyard plans of rural Ghanaian houses, the ensuing one-story, 2,500-square-foot house makes use of timber and adobe mud blocks and is arranged in an L-shape with a balcony wrapping around it. To allow for the free flow of light and air there are no internal corridors and a main feature of the house is no air-conditioning; instead the structure is raised three feet of the ground on a wooden deck to enable the house to benefit from the cooling under-floor breezes; and inside sliding slatted-wood screens allow for cross ventilation. The naturalness is contrasted with the modern interior, as when moving back home the couple brought back a slice of California with them in the form of all their belongings, including the rather impressive Bulthaup kitchen. Now working in Ghana, Joe Osae-Addo has set about applying his design aesthetic to condo projects and low-cost housing developments across Ghana.

This is a truly inspired free-flowing home that upholds the value of local African design ideas.

Additional details:
For Joe Osae-Addo’s profile visit: www.archiafrika.org
To read the article in full visit: http://www.dwell.com/articles/an-Inno-native-approach.html

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