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close this bookAppropriate Building Materials: a Catalogue of Potential Solutions (SKAT; 1988; 430 pages)
View the documentPreface
Open this folder and view contentsIntroduction
Open this folder and view contentsFundamental information on building materials
Open this folder and view contentsFundamental information on building elements
Open this folder and view contentsFundamental information on protective measures
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of foundation materials
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of floor materials
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of wall materials
Open this folder and view contentsExamples of roof materials
close this folderExamples of building systems
View the documentMud brick vaults and domes
View the documentEarthquake resistant mud/bamboo structures
View the documentAdobe brick house
View the documentModular framed earth block construction
View the documentLok Bild system
View the documentConcrete panel house
View the documentFerrocement housing units
View the documentFibracreto building system
View the documentBamboocrete construction
View the documentBamboo houses
View the documentPrefabricated timber hut
View the documentPrefabricated wooden house
View the documentTimber houses for flood areas
View the documentRha-lime prototype house
Open this folder and view contentsAnnexes

Earthquake resistant mud/bamboo structures


Special properties

Self-help construction with local materials

Economical aspects

Low cost


Very good

Skills required

Semi-skilled labour

Equipment required

Traditional local building equipment

Resistance to earthquake

Very good

Resistance to hurricane

Low to medium

Resistance to rain

Low to medium

Resistance to insects


Climatic suitability

All except extremely wet climates

Stage of experience



• This building system was developed and implemented by John Norton, Development Workshop, France, in a USAID technical assistance project in the Koumbia region of North West Guinea, following the December 1983 earthquake.

• Traditional houses were generally made of wattle and daub walls, and thatch roofs. Similar materials, techniques and house forms had to be used in reconstruction, in order to be sure of acceptance by the people. But the new houses had to be earthquake resistant.

• The solution arrived at was to construct the walls with sun-dried mud bricks and to strengthen them by tying bamboo frames on either side. This external reinforcement can be easily checked for termite or other damage and replaced if necessary, thus avoiding the problem faced by traditional houses, in which the concealed bamboo lattice was usually destroyed and consequently failed during the earthquake.

• With this construction, it was possible to retain the traditional house form and thatch roofing, so that no problems of social acceptance arose.

Further information: John Norton, Development Workshop, B.P. 10 Montayral, 47500 Fumel, France; Bibl. 24.13, 24.14, 25.10.

Plan and Section through Traditional Round House, Koumbia Area; Earthquake Resistant Mud Brick Wall with Bamboo Framework "Sandwiching" (Bibl. 24.13, 24.14); Bamboo tightened by pulling on short sticks attached to wire ends

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