Tuesday, August 16, 2005

Abu Ishaq al-Sahili, the architect of the Great Timbuktu Mosque

Standing like a majestic termite mound in the city of Timbuktu, the Timbuktu Mosque stands out as one of the most sophisticated ancient mud structures in the world.

A report in the Guardian says"...The mosque is built on a platform of regular sun-dried mud bricks. The walls are between 16 and 24 inches thick. These allow the interior of the mosque, the world's biggest mud building, to stay cool throughout the day, which is some achievement considering that, outdoors, summer temperatures reach 50C. The palm beams sticking out from the walls serve as structural supports and as permanent scaffolding to bear timber platforms used for repairing and replastering the building with a mix of mud and rice husks each year.”

“What these magnificent mosques prove is that mud buildings can be far more sophisticated than many people living in a world of concrete and steel might want to believe. Mud is not just a material for shaping pots, but for temples, palaces and even, as so many west African towns demonstrate, the framing of entire communities. The very fluidity, or viscosity, of the material allows the architects who use it to create dynamic and sensual forms..."

These buildings are not only technological marvels when it comes to their thermal properties but are also very eco friendly because they are made from mud, straw and cow dung biodegradable and recyclable materials.

The renaissance of sustainable, affordable eco friendly building materials like mud, clay and rammed earth manifests itself in companies like Terra Firma and the South West Solar Adobe School a school that offers hands-on training on Adobe brick Manufacturing and construction.

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