CHANGE AND ADAPTION TO
Woodless construction A south south
technology transfer by Development Workshop
over 30 years to address the environmental
and construction issues of the West African
"Woodless Construction" is the name that has been given in the Sahel to the construction of
buildings, in which all the structural elements, including the vault and dome roofs, are made of sun
dried mud bricks.
Woodless Construction was developed to provide a viable, affordable and accessible alternative to a
dual problem: how to alleviate pressure on the threatened natural resources of the Sahel and at the
same time to make building by the population easier (see Woodless Construction - 1: An overview in
this series of case studies).
The bricks for both walls and roofs
are formed in rectangular moulds,
smoothed by hand and left to dry in
the sun for a few days - a method
very widely known in the region.
During construction, the dried bricks
are laid in mud mortar. The vault
and dome roofs are built using
techniques which originated in Iran
and Egypt. The most important
characteristic of these roofs is that
they are built without any supporting
shuttering. Thus the entire structure
- walls, lintels, and roofs - is built
with locally available earth.
Bringing an ancient building
technique into a new region facing
the same problems is not simple. In
order for the process of training and
dissemination to be effective, the
way Woodless Construction
techniques are both taught and are
used in the Sahel have been the
object of an ongoing process of
evolution and adaptation to local
conditions and training needs.
Figure 1: The mobile rotating guide precisely fixes the angle and
This process of adaptation has
position of every brick in the dome.
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