The Nubian Vault: An ecological housing solution

A housing solution for big cities as well as rural areas, Nubian vaults have become popular in the region of Boromo and have spread across five other regions. And a large market for Nubian vaults has emerged in big cities like Ouagadougou, the capital of Burkina Faso.

March and April are the two hottest months in Burkina Faso, with temperatures often rising to more than 40ºC (104ºF) in the shade. In homes and offices, built in the most part out of cement and concrete, the only solution to the heat is air conditioning.

As a result, energy consumption during these months is extremely high, to the point where the national electricity provider is unable to supply sufficient electricity to meet the sudden increase in demand often causing systematic power cuts across the city during these months.

Due to these factors, in the heart of the affluent district of Ouaga 2000, where villas and futuristic homes line the streets, a new trend in housing is beginning to show. Inspired by ancient techniques, the buildings are made from only earth bricks and earth mortar.

Nubian vaults, recognizable by their thick walls, lack of roofing tiles and the absence of wooden beams, are becoming increasingly popular due to their cooling properties. Nubian vaults also only use locally sourced materials in their construction: adobe, clay and straw, and are thus ecologically sound.

Because of climate change and deforestation, there’s not enough locally available construction timber in the Sahel region of Africa. Traditional roofs are often replaced by imported corrugated zinc sheets and timber frames – an expensive and climatically inappropriate solution. But with the Nubian Vault technique, using raw earth as the principal construction material, a building can go up without using timber. Such buildings are well adapted to both rural and urban contexts and to just about any geographic area.

Video – Check out these amazing buildings, which include two-story homes, using the Nubian Vault method for a solid, comfortable, and affordable home – FR / English Subtitles

Source: The Nubian Vault: An ecological housing solution | Impact Journalism Day 2018

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