Palace Architecture

The Kuba made sure that all of their architecture was developed in proportions that were emphasized by horizontal lines.  Some of the most recognized architecture within the Kuba kingdom lies in the capital city of Nsheng; this city was designed with a very precise layout in mind that looked back upon the importance of the horizontal line (Vasina , 223).  Some of the most recognized architecture within the Kuba kingdom is found in the capital city of Nsheng; this city was laid out with a very precise layout in mind.  One main axis defines most of the important social interactions that occur within the city; this happens on the path between the yoot, king’s residence, and the dweengy, the wives’ residence.  This plan shows and describes special places within Nsheng such as the steps of a king’s enthronement as well as a place to recognize all of the children that have died (Cole, 385). 

Typical Architecture

All of the buildings are rectangular and have pitched roofs; the size and patterns on the exterior of these buildings determines the occupant and their rank in society (Cole , 385). As the buildings were laid out within the city, they were shifted to block the views of plazas so there would be more privacy in the spaces, the heights of buildings would also change to alter the feel of the spaces (Vasina , 223).  The exterior ornamentations are composed of lines and pattern that create intricate geometric patterns similar to those often seen on Kuba textiles.  Walls are created with palm ribs that are then tied together with vines that create the patterns; more detailed patterns are usually separated by simple patterns.  The pattern that represents royalty is named mbul bwiin; it is “a pattern in which two angles enclose a small diamond shape, the module separated form repeats by V-shapes” (Cole , 385). 

Building Details

Many Kuba buildings began as one room with a simple rectangular shape; in 1892, buildings were beginning to have more rooms and some had up to three.  The partitions were floor to ceiling and were just as elaborate as the exterior walls.  This became very difficult to deal with because it was much harder to plait, stitch, and sew the walls together (Vasina , 223).  As the buildings began to grow, the people looked more into decorations and began to carve doorposts and bed frames as well as enlarge door frames and invent sliding doors which took the place of rolled up rugs that previously covered doorways.  Less complex building forms can be found in the rural areas and small tribal towns while more complex and larger buildings can be found in the capital of Nsheng (Vasina , 224).