DISTURBANCES IN VERNACULAR ARCHITECTURE OF TOGO'S RURAL SETTLEMENTS
Keywords: Togo, Earthen Architecture, Rural Settlement, Imported Building Materials, Cultural Risks, Sustainable Development
Abstract. According to the United Nations (UN) Africa accounts for only 13% of the world's urban population and less than half of the inhabitants of this continent (43%) live in urban areas (Xinhua News Agency, 2017). Therefore, the cultural importance of rural architecture in this context is remarkable both locally for each society and generally for human knowledge. As Paul Oliver pointed out, vernacular architecture is the architectural language of people with their ethnic, regional and local dialects (Oliver, 1997), and it should be considered a treasure containing the knowledge, development and progress of a civilization. The formal and material results of this development lead to the reopening of the debate on its sustainability and its effects on human behaviour. The structural changes of rural habitats are putting the preservation of their cultural heritage at serious risk. The current demand for habitability fosters the use of imported materials such as cement and sheet metal to replace earthen walls and straw roofing in the simple constructions, solutions that deceptively improve the comfort of the inhabited spaces. The present article analyses residential construction typologies of traditional rural settlements of Togo, where the constructive, formal and technical variety is replaced by general solutions that, without achieving the desired housing improvement, are nonetheless contributing to the social detachment from traditions that represent the cultural identity of each community. The methodology aims at the identification and characterization of traditional residential typologies, and a final consideration evaluates the balance between sustainable development and the conservation of cultural values in rural settlements.