Home Sustainable Construction Building with earth – information and links

Building with earth – information and links

Over more than 10 years of working with earth we are still learning more every day.

Are you interested in learning more about earth building? We have gathered useful links, books and references on this page. There is even a free online course on building with earth available, see below.

Nubian Vault technique free manual

A free construction manual is available (in french) download here There are also a few free floor plans available for simple configurations download here

Hassan Fathy is the great promoter of this technique


The great part about the Nubian Vault technique is that it is possible to build an entire house out of earth, including the roof. To build the roof, no formwork is needed (time and wood consuming). This is therefore a great solution for areas where wood isn’t readily available. The drawback is that it needs skilled workers and lots of muscles to build a house like this. This means it is perfect for places that rely heavily on expensive imported materials where labour is cheap. That’s how it became hugely popular in Burkina Faso over the last 20 years. You can find these earth houses now both in rural and urban Burkina. The NGO www.lavoutenubienne.org has been assisting the training of skilled artisan masons that are now active in big parts of West Africa. The founder of NDFK, Niek Kramer worked as a project manager and technical supervisor at the NGO for one year in Boromo, Burkina Faso. Ever since Niek has promoted the technique and worked with clients that want their own earth house.

NDFK is assisting as architect and design consultant on Nubian Vault projects for private clients as well as NGO’s and commercial clients. We help with the floor plans as well as planning permission for urban projects. You can see an example project here

nubian vault design

Free online course

Open source course (MOOC) on building with earth (in French) open here

Free online conference on earth building

In 2020 there was an online Earth Building conference in Germany, you can find all full research articles in English and German here

Books on earth building

  • Free earth construction manual :
    Handbook for building earth homes
  • Not free book on Plastering with lime in German ‘Lehm- und Kalkputze’ by Irmela Fromme
  • Not free book on earth building in French ‘Bâtir en terre’ by Laetitia Fontaine

Earth and lime finishes info

We have a section on our website with hands on instructions with a video on how to do a waterproof plaster with lime and earth, similar to Tadelakt. go to wall finishes instructions

Conventional building methods resources

On this freely accessible website you can find lots of common standard details for conventional concrete and masonry construction. Most of these details correspond with conventional building techniques used in Sub-Saharan Africa.

Fixing Detail for Timber Joist Bearing on a Concrete Beam –



Construction Sans Bois is an organisation active in West Africa, building domes and vaults in Niger : ancsb.org

La Voûte Nubienne is a non profit organisation promoting building with earth using the ancient Nubian vault technique www.lavoutenubienne.org

Fact Sahel is a community of earth builders, material suppliers, contractors and architects working with earth in the Sahel region www.factsahelplus.com

Contact us

Please let us know if you have interesting resources on earth building that you think we should mention on our website! Contact us here

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