It's a problem of expectations; when concrete and steel symbolize modernity, how does a humble mud home become architecture that's desirable? The NKA Foundation conceived of a mud home design competition earlier this year to update the aesthetics and appreciation of earthen homes in the Ashanti region of Ghana. It's an important issue since new concrete construction, which relies on imported resources, often strains the budgets of middle-class families and results in dwellings unfit for the tropical environment. The call for single family and semi-urban home designs utilizing mud construction resulted in dozens of concepts from practictioners around the globe (the winning design will be built on site next summer). Dwell spoke with the top three teams to learn about their processes and how getting their hands in the dirt made them think differently about architecture.