Oh my love for architecture, I just love the idea of someone transforming plain bricks, sandcrete block
Of course the first on my bucket list was Burj-Khalifa in Dubai followed by the Piano House in China, the Lotus Temple in New Delhi, the White House in USA , the Llyods Building situate in London and the list goes on .Talking about the World’s most interesting buildings doesn’t Ghana form part of the world?
Not even one Ghanaian building was on that list. We look to the West for the best, only forgetting that we could be or are the best. Ghana also has interesting buildings I tell you!!!!!! Be it modern or historic.
Ok let’s hit Jamestown. Jamestown is one of the oldest districts in Accra and emerged as a community within the 17th Century on the Gulf of Guinea Coast. Due to the rapid growth of the city during the 20th century, it became an area of dense mixture of commercial and residential use. Currently it remains a fishing community being inhabited by the Ga ethnic group.
In the heart of Jamestown we found a couple of interesting buildings. First, the Jamestown Café.
People say first impression counts and the first thing that caught my attention were the woven baskets which the market women normally use lay horizontally on the roof eaves.
Floors finished with wooden like panels , tables stacked with asanka bowls , wooden Ghanaian artifacts , books , walls painted bright, stop guessing the colour it was orange. The kitchen area was enclosed with polished wooden panels and with two bamboo finished bicycles placed at the top. The roof was made of asbestos and there was no ceiling but I could just see the wooden rafters laid nicely. Not only did the orange colour illuminate the place but there was a section of the roof with a sky light allowing the sunlight into the place. So many posters of programs pasted on the walls brought life into the building. It’s a café with an area to sit, eat and work. It’s the Jamestown café. This café was designed by Joe Addo a well renowned Architect who is also a chief patron of ArchiAfrika which is an institution that advocates African architecture.
Next was the Ussher Fort which formerly known as Fort Crevecoeur built by the Dutch in the year 1649.However, in the year 1862 there was an earthquake which destroyed the structure leaving the foundation and some part the Dutch built. In 1868 the British rebuilt the Fort and named it Ussher Fort. It was formerly used as a factory by the Dutch but the British changed its use to a Male Prison. This prison had two cell sections, offices, an execution area, a chapel and a small workshop where the prisoners learnt a trade like carpentry, tailoring etc. In 1957 after independence till about the year 2000 it was then used as a refugee camp but in 2007, it was no longer used as a camp but a tourist site. Some interesting facts about the building is that it’s made of limestone you may be wondering why, this is because limestone has high strength due its characteristic of high density and it endures weather changing patterns. This property helps the building to stand strong and prevents it from collapsing because forts were normally built near water bodies. The color of walls of the fort was white which signifies conservation and also caught the attention of shipping and a smart appearance which attracted customers. It also houses a museum which contains old artifacts collected from structure the Dutch built like shackles, weapons , pictures of other forts in the Ghana and just to mention a few. Although the Fort isn’t in good condition it just give us an idea of the colonial times in which our forefathers toiled and labored. Ussher Fort is also listed under the World Heritage buildings and is managed by the Ghana Monuments Board. You should pass by Jamestown one of these days.
Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral
This wonderful piece of artistic architectural work, designed by Architect C.A.A Barnes is one of the most beautiful religious monuments in the country. Located along Ghana’s “Wall Street”, is another very interesting building that caught our eyes, the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral. It is among the oldest religious monuments in the country. The design of the building is typical of church buildings in England at the time. It is not only a beauty to behold on the outside, but has a very fascinating interior design.
The building which is built of red clay bricks provides a very relaxing environment, typical of clay buildings and is just perfect for its use as a church. Clay is one of the most sustainable and healthy building materials. The church building is about 124 years old and was initially patronized by the colonial expatriates when it was built. Anytime you find yourself around the 28th February road, do pass by the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral and enjoy real beauty in architecture.
A few metres walk from the Holy Trinity Anglican Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Accra, our very own 345 year old James Fort. This building has seen generations upon generations and still exists to tell a story of what happened down the memory lane of our country. Although the building is currently not in a very good state, it reminds Ghanaians about some interesting events that occurred in the country some years back: The Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade is one very common event the fort is noted for. The Fort was purposely located by the sea because it made it easier for the slaves to wash down when they were brought to Accra from the various parts of the country. Initially, the fort was built by the Dutch to be used as a lodge. After the collapse of the building, the British reconstructed it for use as an office. It then became a slave trade centre. It was later used as a Prison over a very long period.
Because of its outstanding universal value, it is among the listed buildings of the UNESCO’s world heritage sites programme. Portions of the James Fort building were constructed with Dutch clay bricks, yellow in colour and plastered with Lime. Because of Lime’s ability to withstand salt, it is a good material for buildings that are close to the sea.