Mousgoum dwellings
Pouss, Cameroon
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Pouss, Cameroon
in use
18 November 2019

For the past three centuries the Mousgoum have made their home in the flood plains that straddle the border between northern Cameroon and Chad. The Mousgoum and their celebrated house, referred to in Munjuk as tolek (pl. tolekakay) and are referred to in French as ‘cases obus’ (granate houses), (1) have been known in the West since at least the 1850s, when the German explorer Heinrich Barth journeyed to north and central Africa.

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cultural and social context

Traditionally, the Mousgoum homes have a vernacular design in which the husbands unit is centrally located in the dome and the wives’ occupy units around the husbands’. This architectural form is the result of the aims and desire of the unified group (Source: Obot, 2007). The tolekakay are grouped in a circle which can consists of up to fifteen huts. A branch wall around the huts indicates that these houses all belong to one family. Not all huts do have the same size, Traditionally the bigger huts were used for livestock. The place between the huts had a defined zoned purposes, such as a zone for cattle, a playground zone and a zone meant for family councils.

materials and building techniques

The Mousgoum buildings are an example of cob buildings and feature geometrical raised patterns. The architecture of Mousgoum houses follow the shape of a shell. The doorway is heavenly framed and really marks the entrance. The construction of Mousgoum houses is very solid, even though they have no foundation. Thicker walls at the base and thinner walls at the top of the construction enhance its strength. The top of the houses have an opening to allow for air circulation. The structure is highly textured, which allows for individualization of the surface. Moreover these veins also have a drainage function. The Mousgoum structures require frequent maintenance of the coating, here the veins help the people to climb on top of the house. Traditionally, women were in charge of the maintenance of the huts

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earth and climate

The thick mud walls make the surface less penetrative for the heat. The use of thick clay walls do not only keeps the house cool it also releases low CO2 levels.

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technical drawings
A schematic plan of a dwelling cluster.

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