Architecture in West Africa and Asia:
The Basel mission was noted for the teaching of building
crafts such as carpentry, masonry, and the manufacture of roof shingle.
In West Africa, their presence revolutionized architecture, and in Ghana,
Andreas Riis, the founder of the Basel Mission enterprise in the early
nineteenth century, was rightly given the accolade osiadan, the house
builder. Albert Adu Boahen, Ghana’s foremost historian, describes
this contribution: “In place of the traditional round mud houses
roofed with grass and without windows, Riis and his group of colonists
built rectangular houses with windows and doors, roofed with shingles
and furnished with beds, chairs and other items of furniture. They also
were the first to introduce bricklaying as well as building in stones
in many areas.” [A. Boahen, Ghana: Evolution and Change in the Nineteenth
and Twentieth Centuries (2000), 84.] The initial mission houses and churches
were patterned after West African architectural styles, as missionaries
waited for resources to build more permanent structures. Thus, Mrs. Göhring’s
first house in Fumban in 1906 (E-30.28.004)
was in the traditional Bamum style, a round hut with a thatched roof.
There is no window and the single door served as an entrance, the source
of light and ventilation. The same architectural style is evident in the
Cameroonian kingdom of Bafut (E-30.27.039).
The first Christian church in Fumban (E-30.29.002),
photographed in 1906, represents a blend of Bamum and European architecture:
a square building with a thatch or straw roof. Early missionary houses
in Bali also display the fusion of African and European influences, and
the residence of the missionaries in E-30.25.016
is a large square building (of baked clay?) with a thatched roof with
two conical peaks, and a verandah around the house. The mission house
built in Fumban, also in 1906, shows a marked shift in architectural style:
a concrete, rectangular two-storey building with roof shingles, several
doors and windows (E-30.28.012).
The mission house in Fumban, photographed between 1911 and 1915 stands
on stilts, reflecting medical thinking in vogue in Europe then about how
tropical fevers were caused by vapours emanating from the soil (E-30.28.020).
Arched doors and windows, stained windows and towers are seen in some
of the church buildings
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