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Sustainable cities made of mud

Mud structures are also incredibly robust and resistant to extreme weather conditions, such as heat waves, floods and droughts, which scientists predict will become more frequent and intense as temperatures continue to rise. The United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warned in a report this year that cities and towns are largely unprepared to deal with extreme weather events. To avoid costly damage and protect people, they must invest in climate-resilient buildings and infrastructure, the IPCC said.

Earthen architecture can withstand extreme events such as earthquakes and high winds “due to its structure’s ability to spread the load it faces over its surface, unlike concrete or cement” , explains Damluji.

But the resilience of mud constructions to earthquakes depends on the intensity of the seismic waves and the ground in which they are built, explains Jérôme.

The mud buildings are “also protected from seasonal rains and flash floods thanks to the protective and moisture-resistant exterior render used in multiple layers of refined coating and plaster of mud, ash and lime,” says Damluji. .

The impact of flooding on mud buildings varies depending on whether they are built in a floodplain and have solid foundations, according to Jerome.

A severe flood in the Hadhramaut region of east-central Yemen in 2008 damaged 5,000 earthen buildings, most of which had been built on a floodplain, with little or no foundations, says -she. Flood damage in the nearby desert valley of Wadi Dawan in Yemen was much less severe because the foundations of earthen dwellings are more than 1.5m deep and built of dry stone, which means that the water does not rise through the ground, she adds. The paths in the valley are “designed as breakwaters that channel water into the irrigation canals of the date palm groves. Only about 25 buildings were affected in the whole of Wadi Dawan”.

People who want to live in a modern and comfortable home should consider a house made of mud, say the architects.

“Mud buildings are extremely adaptable,” says Damluji. “If you want to tear down a wall or change the design, you can recycle all the materials.”

Overall, this makes for a highly sophisticated and durable design, says Jerome. “Each mud house is comfortable, can be fully adapted and easily equipped with electricity and plumbing.”

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