Ndembu villages are changing from a pattern of discrete circles of houses inhabited by matrilineal kin to a conglomeration of groups of two or three mud-brick houses that face inward to a small courtyard. Such conglomerations themselves seem to be villages, although they are not regarded as such. The tiny groups are spinoffs from larger matrilineally based parent villages, and an Ndembu's immediate neighbor is still likely to be a matrilineal relative. The small groups are called "farms." Circular villages still exist and are referred to by the Ndembu term for village ( mukala ). A typical mukala has eight to ten houses with 30 to 50 inhabitants. The conglomerations, built-up areas, vary greatly in population—from 100 to 800 to 2,000 people. Their larger size is a response to the government's policy of centralization for the sake of the schools and of branch-committee control.
Almost all the houses are rectangular, mud-brick structures with thatched roofs, wooden doors and window frames, and hard mud floors; usually a dwelling has two rooms and a veranda. A round meeting shelter is sometimes added.