The Merchant-Venturer’s Bungalow: A Vernacular Archetype in Nigeria’s Niger Delta

Warebi Gabriel Brisibe


This paper is part of a larger study on heritage buildings and conservation in Nigeria’s Niger Delta region. It examines a type of vernacular dwelling based on the concept of ‘building-back-home’, common amongst merchants, seafarers and migrant fishermen between the 1920s and the 1940s in the study area. This work adopts a case study approach zooming in on existing building types within the cathographic Niger Delta region which is this study area. It examines architectural traits and building elements as a means of ‘reading’ spatial configurations and interrelationships, craftsmanship, collective interpretation and symbolisms to ascertain typologies or variations of this vernacular dwelling in the region. The aim is to investigate why this dwelling type was highly popular and found across different groups in the region. It explores the building-back-home culture of its earliest proponents and how that has translated into vernacular built forms. Through the case studies that were analyzed, the study reveals the development, cultural and colonial influences and design philosophy of this vernacular archetype.


Cultural Influence; Vernacular Architecture; Bungalow; Niger Delta; Merchant-Venturer

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