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23 Jan 2017

Weft - Community Arts Center: Earth-Construction Workshop in Ghana

Kente House (during construction)
Project Leader - Angeles Hevia Vargas

Weft - Community Arts Center in Abetenim, Ghana
Eddie Winn and Samantha McPadden with the Nka Foundation


Participants are welcome anytime between June 3rd and August 31st, 2017 Engage in the culture of the Ashanti Region and participate in community events. Work with local builders to learn traditional earth-building techniques. This workshop is open to anyone and everyone, regardless of profession or skills.

Eddie Winn
+1 704 224 4106

near Kumasi

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Weft is a sustainable and economical project in the artist village of Abetenim, Ghana. Our workshop will take place June 3 - August 31, 2017. The project will be realized by a team of locals and volunteers, collaborating together to define and experiment with the idea of community and architecture. By supporting this project, you are helping a community and their artists better collaborate within their neighborhood.

Ghana has a long history of using earth construction methods, as do many other countries throughout the world. In Ghana, common stereotypes exist that propagate the idea that earth construction is a symbol of poverty. Too often, earth construction is assumed to identify the struggling farmer or a socially inferior group of people. These stereotypes remain unchallenged and persist due to the overwhelming presence of deteriorating earth structures in Ghana's landscapes. In many instances, mitigating these issues is only a matter of implementing proper technique and maintenance. However, as these conditions become more common, the shift to modern building methods and materials gains momentum. This shift is accompanied by negative impacts on small, growing communities. With modern construction methods come higher material costs, inefficient building systems, and loss of culture.

Weft aims to alleviate the stereotypes surrounding earth construction through this collaborative workshop, focusing on the traditional building methods found in Ghana. Both rammed earth and waddle and daub will be utilized. Weft will explore the structural and aesthetic implications of integrating these two distinct techniques.

Our team will live and work in Abetenim, getting to know more about the community via the culture and architecture. We will study the earth architecture, the vernacular in the area, looking at how different methods of construction with similar materials create different types of spaces. Since earth architecture is already extremely sustainable and economical, we will design different methods of making the building process more streamlined and intuitive.

Weaving is one of the oldest forms of artistic expression, merging functionality with form. The two components of a weaving are the warp and the weft. The warp is the structure of the weaving. It is a series of parallel strands of yarn that are held in tension by a loom. The weft is the yarn that is woven over and under the warp, filling in the structure with substance.

Weaving has been seen as an art form for centuries. The variation in material and method from one culture to the next gives the process of weaving, as well as the weaving itself, a unique identity. Abetenim is situated adjacent to a thriving weaving community. Weft hopes to bring together weavers of many different cultures, each using different materials and tools, creating a center for collaboration within the community.

The site for Weft is on the edge of the Ashanti Arts District, reaching towards the nearby weaving villages, creating an implied connection and openness between the two. The main spine of the project is the 'Weft' wall. It weaves in and out of the structure supporting the roof and delineates the programmatic elements of the art center. The roof is lightly structured, resting above the Weft wall, creating the structural rhythm for the expressive wall. This structural element is the physical analogy of the warp component of a weaving.

By participating in a 12-week workshop that analyzes the benefits and challenges of traditional construction given a particular cultural framework, our group will contribute to an analytical approach to a design-build project. The premise of the Weft workshop is to study the vernacular of the Ashanti region and begin to understand programmatic implications of the regional architecture. As a group we will strategize how to overcome the stigma of earth construction for the poor and analyze how modern ideas can be developed with ancient techniques. The final product of the design-build workshop will be a collaborative design center for artists-in-residence.


We are now accepting applications. Participants are welcome for any amount of time between June 3 and August 31st, 2017. Everyone is welcome, regardless of skill set or profession. There is the possibility of school / university credit being given (please refer to your university for further information). If interested in joining the team, please contact us at or visit our website - - for more information on how to apply.

We are also currently crowdfunding to cover the budget. All donations will go directly to purchasing building supplies and compensating the local labor for their time and effort. If interested in donating, please visit our website - - and click Donate.

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Weft On!