This Nubian vault technique is based on an age-old method of timberless vault construction, originating in upper Egypt. It uses only mudbricks and earth mortar.
A mudbrick is a composite material, made of clay, sand and water mixed with an organic binding material such as straw.
The Nubian vault construction method is:
- ecologically sustainable – using no timber beams, rafters, or supports;
- carbon neutral – none of the building materials need to be manufactured or transported long distances, nor do any trees need to be cut down;
- economically viable – locally available raw materials (earth, rocks, sand and water) are used, thus favouring local economic circuits and self-sufficiency;
- comfortable – due to the excellent thermal and acoustic insulation properties of earth construction;
- durable – buildings have a far longer lifetime than those with timber roofs and maintenance is simple;
- modular – it can be used for a wide range of buildings of different styles (flat terrace roofs, two-storey buildings, courtyard buildings…) which are easily extendable;
- vernacular – incorporating traditional practices and aesthetics of earth architecture;
- local material – all building materials are available within a circle of 4 km around building location.
- earth (desert clay not agricultural clay);
- limestone rocks.
The physical properties of earth as high insulation building material with time-lag convection of heat and cold.
- passive cooling system
Climatic conditions such as roofing with domes and vaults crafted by hand, out of sundried bricks, cross ventilation, appropriate placement of windows at high points in the house to encourage natural heat escape.
- passive heating system
The position of the sun must be determined for all hours of the day at all seasons as well as the direction of the prevailing winds, especially during the hot season.
- optimum orientation with regard to the sun and the prevailing northern wind;
- façade north and south as long as possible, façade east and west as short as possible.
- courtyard configuration which
- captures coolness of desert night;
- air movement begins when sun’s morning heat causes eddies of air to circulate;
- controls passage of cool air from courtyard to rooms via openings placed above doorways;
- outdoor sitting loggia on shaded side of courtyard where ceramic water jugs.
- water storage cystern, biofilters.
- solar hot water heater on the roof.
Waste water treatment
- treating sewage on site;
- septic tanks, biofilters, botannical septical cell in an area of the landscaping in the garden.
- solar electricity;
- additional: local grid obliged by local law.
- landscaping is the most under utilised area of domestic architecture euro for euro it is probably the cheapest and most effective way of improving year round comfort and energy efficiency;
- outside the house, the thermal environment will be greatly improved with judicious planting of shrubs and deciduous trees deciduous trees provide shade in summer and allows winter sunshine in;
- the addition of vegetation radically lowers exterior temperatures of patios and loggia, creating a fresher micro-climate within an entire area;
- trees: certain species of trees sheltering grids;
- shrubs: herbs such as rosemary and lavender will be used to perfume the air dried;
- ‘edible and usable’: trees can be used not only as cooling agents but as food providers; fruit-bearing trees like date, banana, guave, limoun.