This paper examines the transformation of the housing typology in informal neighbourhoods located on the periphery of Dakar, Senegal. More specifically, it documents the spatial logics and factors guiding the construction of new multi-storey houses called “villas”, which are significantly transforming the landscape of the city. Studies have thus far examined villas through the lenses of migrants’ investments and lifestyles, associating these houses with new functions and decorative elements and materials inspired by time spent abroad, with innovative ways of building and dwelling that disrupt more popular housing practices. Based upon an architectural survey of seventeen houses and the detailed stories of their construction, this paper argues that while the Senegalese villa is influenced by global networks and symbols of success, it is also deeply rooted in popular housing forms and building practices. Moreover, because house-building processes are predominantly incremental, the construction of this new house type is not limited to migrants and other privileged dwellers. Although at different speeds, most residents are building and transforming their houses according to spatial and constructive logics characteristic of villas. These results have implications for housing policies and programmes because they contribute to challenging assumptions about residential production, new housing typologies and the pivotal actors of these urban transformations.
Keywords: Incremental House Construction, Housing Typology, Villa, Architecture, Senegal.
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