nubian vault workshop + desert tour (6 days)
Tunis Village, Fayoum, Egypt
Jan 12-17, 2014, Jan 26-31, 2014
VLT1 Jan 12-17, 2014; VLT2 Jan 26-31, 2014
€ 595 or LE 5,500
fayoum art center view on a bigger map
Learn how to build a Nubian vault in unique setting
Nubian vault workshop
Nubian vault technique
The Nubian Vault technique is an age-old method of timberless vault construction, originating in upper Egypt. It uses only earth bricks and earth mortar. Nubian vaults built over 3,000 years ago at the Ramesseum mortuary temple, Luxor, are still standing.
DWN introduces a simplified, standardised version of this ancient technique in Egypt. This standardised DWN 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.
What happens during a workshop?
These are hands-on retreats for people who want to learn to build from earth and the elements.
The workshops give the chance to focus on learning the unique traditional earth building techniques developed at DWN in the serene and instructive setting of DWN.
Mentored by the works and words of Hassan Fathy and taught by our local master masons, the holistic learning methods during the intensive retreat continuously convey techniques and concepts to the participant.
Six thousand years of earth architecture and ceramics are transformed within the participant in a brief period into the designs of the future.
What are the subjects taught?
Below is a list of topics covered in our workshops. Teaching methods are in the tradition of Hassan Fathy with philosophy, design theory and principles taught through the expression of the hands-on experience.
- building with mudbrick
- learn how to build a vault
- the principle of the arch
- superadobe basics
- site planning, orientation, simple solar passive strategies
- waterproofing, foundations
Wadi El Rayan & Whalebone Valley
We drive through UNESCO World Heritage Site and see fossilised whale skeletons resting on the desert sands, the wildlife surrounding a freshwater desert lake and the rock formations in Wadi El Rayan.
We rise early this morning and explore the World Heritage Site of the ‘Valley of the Whales’ just a few km away from Tunis village. This is acknowledged as the most important site worldwide for learning about the history of whale skeletal development and hundreds of fossilised whale skeletons as well as mangrove roots and crab tunnels have been found in the sand. Many of these are now displayed on the sand surface and we take a walk of a few kilometres through the desert to view these.
Meanwhile our bedouin guide Mohamed Heba prepares a lovely local lunch which you will enjoy sitting in their shaded bedouin place.
We drive through the vast desert and sand dunes and limestone formations of Wadi El Rayan where we make camp at the foot of a huge rock formation. Mohamed’s bedouin tent serves as our home. He makes a delicious bedouin meal making a fire with the local firewood he has collected. Enjoy the stars.
Wake up at sunshine, wonder around our camp site to explore the animal & bird footprints of foxes and rabbits.
We drive to Wadi El Battieh (watermelon valley) where you will find prehistoric rounded stones formed by water streams at the sea bottom.
Climbing over some huge sand dunes from where you may sandboard and see the Monastry from the huge rock plateau and some spectacular sand scenery.
We take our local lunch at the foot of the Monastery plateau where our Bedouin friends have their base camp.
Through the oasis and stop at the freshwater desert lake, enjoying the amazing blue Magic Lake, a stunning beautiful lake where you can enjoy swimming.
Drive back to Tunis village before sunset.