Hausa Architecture

Hausa Architecture is the architecture of Hausa People. Hausa Architectural forms include mosques, walls, common compounds, and gates.

Towns and Compounds

Large Hausa towns tended to have wards assigned to different ethnics. Kano for example had 127 wards. In 1450, a Fulani ward was added. Between 1500-1804 other wards were added: Ayagi ward for Yorubas, Tudun Nufawa ward for Nupe, Dandalin Turawa ward for Libyan Arabs.

House compounds had a box design with a dome roof or flat clay roof. A courtyard existed in the center of the compound. A compound had a zaure or entranceway that lead to a forecourt called a kofir gida then to another entrance at the centre, where the head, wife, and relatives lived. The compound would also have storage for granaries and other storage items.


Hausas began building walls early in antiquity. The term birane or walled town was in use since the 1100s. Hausa walled towns eventually evolved into walled cities. Overtime, walls would encompass farming land, for further protection. Queen Amina of Zaria had walls built out of adobe around the city of Zaria. Zaria's wall was a testament to the prosperous and illustrious reign of the queen. Kano's outer wall during the the 1800s was twenty feet wide at the base, thirty feet high,  with a circumference of twelve miles, covering an area of sixteen square mile.


Hausa Walls usually contained large gates similiar to Marinid gates of the Moroccan Rabat in the 1300s and Andalusian gates found in Fez. These gigantic gates were made of termite resistant palm wood covered with iron plates. The gates were strong and sturdy. Only the British could knock it down with the use of cannons in 1902-1903.


Hausas built numerous mosques. Hausa mosque displayed the Timbuktu/Djenne style , introduced by the Dyula fleeing the Moroccan invasion of Songhay. In 1534, the Timbuktu/Djenne later fused with a Tunisian style introduced by Tunisian muslim fleeing the Ottoman invasion. Initially, mosques were built with thatch, reinforced earth and wattle-and Daub. Some were built with a special Hausa mixture of mud, katse(vegetable matter),  and oxen blood. Later burnt bricks were used. The usage facilitated the easy construction of a rectangular building, a requirement in the building of a mosque. Sturdier walls made multi-story buildings  and a heavy clay roof possible.

Hausas imported termite resistance palm wood. Such importation, marked the beginning of large dome construction and clay roof of monumental size. Domes would be support by one timber. Between 1469-1499, Kano became very prosperous. Domes were even more grand and manumental. This grandeur was captured by Hugh Clapperton in his description of Sokoto city.

a square tower, the ceiling of which was a dome, supported by eight ornamental arches, with a bright plate of brass in its center. Between the arches and the outer wall of the tower, the dome was encircled by a neat balustrade in front of a gallery, which led into an upper suite of rooms.