To cut away at a right-angled edge or corner to make a symmetrical sloping edge.
Chamfered edge of a stone building in Lamu.
The urban patchwork of Lamu stone-town is composed of buildings that are sited roughly two metres apart. The streets between the buildings are tight and hence oneway traffic is comfortable and two way traffic is intimate (brushing up against a loaded donkey is common).
Generally, buildings in the stone town are oriented to facing the sea. This allows the sea-breeze to penetrate and cool the stone houses. The exception is the mosque, which is oriented to face north, the direction of qibla, the direction of prayer.
The mosque therefore sits distorted against the pattern of the urban fabric and making the tight streets even tighter.
The Swahilis who built Lamu stonetown, mitigated this effect by chamfering the edge of mosques, easing accessibility and realigning the mosque's edge with the urban fabric.
Illustration showing chamfering of a mosque
Thus, what was jarring and uncomfortable is transformed in to a point of change, a threshold , a break in the pattern.
Passage through a chamfered mosque in Lamu stone town.