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Three Earth building types

Which common three earth building types are used to building houses? Earth is the most widely used building material in the world. But it is often associated with poor development and unhealthy living conditions. NDFK proposes to develop new ways to use earth as a building material, so that it can be used as a high quality and comfortable alternative for ‘modern’ materials like metal sheet roofing and cement blocks.

“We believe in comfortable and beautiful earth buildings.”

Three earth building types we use

TYPE 1. Adobe – Nubian Vault

Adobe blocks are earth blocks dried in the sun, and still used all over Africa to build homes. We design houses made entirely out of adobe, including the roof. This technique comes originally from Egypt and is called Nubian vault. It is promoted by an NGO, la Voûte Nubienne, in Burkina Faso. Local masons have already built thousands of vaults. Niek Kramer, the founder of ndfk, has designed many adobe homes in Burkina Faso since 2012. We continue to provide design services to clients that want to build a beautiful house with this technique. Currently we are working on three Nubian vault projects in Ouagadougou, and one project in Bobo-Dioulasso. The picture below shows a house currently under construction in the outskirts of Ouagadougou.

nubian vault under construction

nubian vault design

TYPE 2. Rammed earth

Rammed earth is another old technique adapted for modern building that can be used in high-end projects, with a beautiful finish. Walls are built up by compacting earth in a form work, layer by layer. It is currently not very commonly used in Africa, but is very popular in the USA and Australia.  We are currently working on one project using this technique in Ouagadougou. We have experts that help us with the technical part of this technique from Ghana, Australia and Mexico/ India.

TYPE 3. CEB (Compressed Earth Blocks) and Hydraform blocks

These are solid blocks that are made of compressed earth, with a little bit of cement added. There are several types of machines for this. One type are Hydraform blocks, which have the added benefit of interlocking. That means that they can be stacked without a joint.

Compressed earth blocks are a good alternative to traditional burnt bricks., as they don’t require to be baked in an oven, so they cost much less energy. CEB should be protected from direct exposure to the rain. We have designed an office building in Ouagadougou with this technique. more info

We have an extensive network and knowledge about working with local materials and passive energy solutions for buildings. We are also member of the FACT Sahel group, which is a network of earth builders, engineers and architects in french speaking West Africa. link

Are you thinking of building an (earth) house in West Africa? You can contact us below for more information:

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