Quake Safe


Quake Safe is a frame made from string, bamboo and wire, which can be either retrofitted into an existing adobe (mud brick) house or incorporated into a new house as it’s being built, in order to give it a much higher level of structural protection against earthquakes. The invention was created by Faculty of Engineering Ph.D Student at the University of Technology in Sydney, Dominic Dowling. The frame is designed to be affordable to people who live in adobe houses, particularly the poorer rural communities of Central America. [ interview | video ]

Shibam: Saving the Manhattan of the Desert

With its 500 narrow houses bunched close together, built like a fortress in the midst of Wadi Hadramaut, Shibam is architecturally unique. Its six-storey houses, built of mud with stone foundations, look like skyscrapers. The nickname “Manhattan of the desert” is an apt one. Twice destroyed in the 13th and 16th centuries, Shibam has scarcely altered since it was last rebuilt after 1553.

Association La Voute Nubienne


Population growth in Sub-Saharan Africa, together with increasing desertification and regression of forested areas, means that the use of timber in traditional building techniques is no longer feasible and the alternative of using corrugatedd iron is expensive and thermally and acoustically problematic. The Association La Voute Nubienne’s primary objective is to persuade people to use the Nubian Vault technique as a valid alternative to traditional building methods in rural areas of Burkina Faso and neighbouring countries of the Sahel. Using a simplified and codified adaptation of the classic Nubian vault technique which Hassan Fathy broght back into the public eye in the 1940’s. Thus far, some 200 vaults have been built in Burkina Faso, including a church and a mosque, and some two-storey buildings, and over 40 builders have ben trained in the technique.