You might be familiar with the fractals in African textiles. But architecture and village design? Wow! Just as Nature maps entire river system channel designs onto tiny leaves, so do Africans mimic Nature in their culture.
Fractal pattern in Ba-Ila village in Africa
Like in southern Zambia, the Ba-ila housing settlements are designed like enormous rings. Each extended family house is like a ring-shaped livestock pen with a gate at the front of the ring. Near the gate are small storage buildings, and moving around the ring, the buildings become progressively larger dwellings, until the largest, the father’s house, is opposite the gate (back of the pen). Thus front to back measures a status gradient for the home. At the back of each family’s house is the household altar.
Similarly, the front of the settlement is the gate. Near the gate are smaller home rings, progressing to larger as we go around the settlement ring. Inside, which is also the back of the settlement is the chief’s house. The front of the chief’s house is the gate, with progressively larger buildings around the ring, until the largest, the chief’s home, at the back.
It is a ring of rings and a status gradient increasing with size from front to back, reflected in every scale of the settlement. The relation of the chief to the tribe is described by the word “kulela,” means “to nurse and to cherish.” He is like the father of the community, and this relationship is echoed throughout family and spiritual ties at all scales and is structurally mapped through self-similar architecture.