UBC Graduate Research

Mary's courtyard Mbugua, Colin Kaguru Berg


This research is a product of mediating theory and practice to test the tile-vault technique as an answer to low cost housing and dignified housing in Sub Saharan Africa. This response is triggered by the Maa community’s need for permanent housing, found in the Olare Motorogi Conservancy Kenya. The Maa community have been transitioning from a Nomadic lifestyle to a sedentary way of life for the past decade. Factors such as global warming and globalization have played into forcing the traditional practice to a halt. The tile vaulting technique is a 600 year tradition in parts of the Mediterranean, where bricks and clay are readily available for construction. The technique is easily combined with the Maa communities traditional earth walls and earth blocks from readily available soil on site. The Maa community are currently limited to traditional techniques of construction and it is expected that through the use of tile vaults the communities construction vocabulary and techniques will expand. The learning process will however have to be on site during construction. Therefore putting pressure on the ability of the construction workers to endure a steep learning curve. The use of earth bricks has two projected results. Thermally insulating the structure against the overhead sun in this semi arid environment and provide an environmentally sound structure.

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