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Professor Ralph Mills-Tettey, Immediate Past Registrar of the Architects Registrations Council of Ghana who gave the advice, expressed worry that in an attempt to protect oneself from dangers from robbers and intruders, most Ghanaians had built fortified urban homes that had conversely imprisoned them especially during fire and other emergencies.
He was speaking at a lecture organized by the Ghana Institute of Architects as part of activities to mark the 50th Anniversary celebration.
Prof Mills-ettey said such fortifications, which range from hedges, fences, high walls with barbed wire (sometimes electrified) to the full burglar proofing on all external doors and window openings, made it difficult or impossible for neigbhours to know when one is in trouble so they could help.
He also said the open style of architectural design with dwarf walls made it possible for inhabitants in the community to keep an eye on each other’s property and thus strengthen the traditional values of friendliness and neighbourliness.
Speaking on the topic: “A Ghanaian Man’s Home Is His Castle-The Architecture of Fear and Self-Preservation,” he traced the origins of protection of simple dwellings in history through fortifications of settlements and buildings in times of peace and war to modern-day architectural designs and construction practices of high fence walls and barbwires and added that they created a unique “architecture of fear and self-preservation.”
Focusing on the Ghanaian situation, Prof Mills-Tettey said “The Ghanaian man’s home that he sees as his castle and pride is also in fact turning into a fortress and prison in many respects.”
He noted that architects had a challenging role to play in creating functional aesthetically pleasant and secured homes.
Prof Mills-Tettey called for careful and sensitive planning, designing and detailing of buildings and homes rather than a reliance and use of hardware and sophisticated gadgetry in the finished products.