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This amazing Nubian Vault* building, inaugurated on Dec 4th 2016, is one of AVN's major recent achievements in Senegal. Financed in part by the French Conseil Départemental des Yvelines, in collaboration with the NGO Le Partenariat and the Regional Development Agency of Matam, the local Commune, and the Regional Urbanism Service, it is an exemplary project. The building is due to house volunteers working with and for the local community, and provide them with office space and meeting facilities.
The construction, with technical guidance from AVN, was carried out by the firm Habitat Moderne, run by the Burkinabe NV entrepreneur Richard Somda. It is an early and excellent example of the recognition now awarded to the Nubian Vault concept by the formal sector, and also serves as a model demonstration building for the region.---------------------
*The Nubian Vault is a novel reinterpretation of an ancestral technique, revived by AVN in order to allow access to appropriate and affordable housing to as many people as possible, as soon as possible. AVN bases its action on key technical innovations, adapted to the Sahelian climate, resources and social and economical context.
The Nubian Vault (NV) technique is an age-old method of timber-less vault construction, originating in Upper Egypt. It uses only earth bricks and earth mortar. Nubian Vaults built over 3,500 years ago at the Ramesseum Mortuary Temple in Luxor are still standing.
During the last fifteen years, AVN has successfully introduced a simplified, standardised version of this ancient technique in Burkina Faso, Mali, Senegal, Benin and Ghana. This standardised NV technique is:
- ecologically sustainable: no corrugated iron roofing sheets, nor timber beams, rafters, or supports;
- carbon neutral - none of the construction materials are manufactured, or transported long distances, nor do any trees need to be cut down;
- economically viable: only locally available raw materials (earth, rocks, and water) are used, favouring local economic circuits and self-sufficiency;
- comfortable: due to the excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties of earth construction;
- durable: NV buildings have a far longer lifetime than those with corrugated iron and timber roofs, and maintenance is simple;
- modular: applicable to a wide range of buildings (houses, schools, healthcentres...), of different styles (flat terrace roofs, two-storey buildings, courtyard buildings...), which are easily extendable;
- vernacular: incorporating tradtional practices and aesthetics of earth architecture.
AVN's simplified and standardised version of the technique has been adapted to the climatic conditions and traditional know-how of the Sahel region, making it easy to learn on-the-job:
- roofs are exclusively vaulted (no domes), and can incorporate a traditional flat roof-terrace ;
- vaults are a standard width (3,25 metres), made from mud bricks of a standard size ;
- a guide cable is used to define the curvature of the vault ;
- walls are a standard thickness, and openings for doors and windows a standard size ;
- plastic sheeting is incorporated in the roof to reduce water penetration and erosion.
See more details about this projecthttps://www.construction21.org/articles/h/low-carbon-winner-of-the-green-solutions-awards-2017-maison-des-yvelines-senegal.html
ContractorConseil Départemental des Yvelines
Construction ManagerONG Le Partenariat Nicolas Dupuy, Directeur Technique Le Partenariat - Coordinateur Sénégal /Mail : firstname.lastname@example.org / Tél : (221) 33 961 46 51 ou (221) 77 535 38 86
CompanyHabitat Moderne Richard Somda Structural Work
OthersAssociation la Voûte Nubienne Samuel Rodrigues, Responsable Pôle Technique / Mail : email@example.com Technical Expertise
OthersRegional Development Agency of Matam Technical Partner
OthersRegional Urbanism Service Technical Partner
CompanyBOROM DAROU Oumar GUEYE Finishing touches
CompanyNIANG & FRERES Assane NIANG Metal joinery
DesignerAL-MIZAN. Architecture, développement, écologie au Sahel (Nouakchott) firstname.lastname@example.org architectural conception and technical expertise
Owner approach of sustainability
The "Conseil Départemental des Yvelines" choses the Nubian Vault technique spread in West Africa by the Nubian Vault Association because this architectural concept allows the construction of adapted buildings. A Nubian Vault is:
- Durable: a Nubian Vault has thick walls, is resistant to rain, and is passed on from generation to generation;
- Comfortable: it provides thermal, acoustic, aesthetic and usage comfort, and offer an option of traditional terraced roofs and two-storey houses;
- Ecological: no wood or straw, no production or transport of imported materials (corrugated metal sheets, cement, steel rafters) and thermal stability limiting the need for air-conditioning;
- Economical: up to 50% less expensive than other building techniques for the basic structure;
- Adapted to the local economy: only local labour and materials are used, clients are directly involved in the building, costs are re-injected into local circuits;
- Easy to reproduce: simplified and standardized, the technique can be learned by anyone, with no particular educational requirements and only basic tools. Its simplicity and standardization also guarantee stability and durability.
The Nubian Vault (NV) used on this projet is an ancestral construction technique, originating in Upper Egypt and north of Sudan, using only raw earth bricks and earth mortars. It represents a sustainable and affordable alternative to the roofing sheets and concrete roof that are today widespread in West Africa.
The architectural program consists of the combination of two distinct functions: administrative and reception spaces on the one hand, and accommodation spaces on the other. Regarding these needs and the hard climatic conditions in this area of Senegal, the architectural bias consisted in the creation of three building blocks separated by inner courtyards offering ventilated and shaded spaces as additional quality spaces. The administrative and reception building is aligned with the main road and offers an impressive and welcoming two-storey facade while the accommodation building is more discreetly developed in the depth of the piece.
If you had to do it again?
An integration workshop was embedded to the project, and the production estimates of these workers (from France) have not been done, which resulted on an additional cost.
Building users opinion
“A Nubian Vault, the wind can’t carry it away, the wind can’t break it, the rain can’t come in, and if there were a fire here, earth doesn’t burn… So it is really good. If you compare, the Nubian Vault method is cheaper than cement. If we could, the whole village would be Nubian Vaults.“
René Ndong and Brigitte Phiaw, Nubian Vault customers
“Housing issues are extremely important issues for us, for the environment and it is proven that living and housing conditions are what contributes the most to the health and well-being of populations. The Nubian Vault matches perfectly our resource management policy and our fight against poverty, because it improves the living conditions of inhabitants in rural areas.“
Abdoulaye Baldé, Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development - Senegal
Life Cycle Analysis
Health & Comfort
Adobe - Mud Bricks (traditional/cut laterite)
Local informal production
Structural work / Structure - Masonry - Facade
Energy performance = thickness of the walls because static brick and not expensive
Bricks with pebble-incrusted outer surface
Local informal production
Structural work / Structure - Masonry - Facade
Brick of banco (adobe) in which there are stones engraved on the part exposed to the outside in order to better hang the coatings (cement mortars> no lime available in africa)
No maintenance required
Enables the use of earth architecture for urban / institutional clients who do not plan to maintain
Building Environmental Quality
- Building flexibility
- indoor air quality and health
- consultation - cooperation
- comfort (visual, olfactive, thermal)
- energy efficiency
- renewable energies
- building end of life management
- integration in the land
- building process
- products and materials
· A training system was implemented and monitored during the project; It enabled the reinforcement of the training of 19 apprentices and masons from Burkina Faso and Senegal to VN construction techniques;
· This project was the opportunity for the Burkinabe company Habitat Moderne by Richard Somda, to realize its first project as a VN contractor, marking the anchoring of the technique VN in the formal market;
· The building, a true architectural work, will make it possible to sensitize the local populations and more particularly the institutional players to the solution VN and its many advantages, both aesthetic and functional.