Earth-based architecture: a developing cultural industry

Applicant: Comitato Internazionale per lo Sviluppo dei Popoli (CISP) (Italy)
Location: Niger, Burkina Faso, Mali, Cameroon
Duration: 24 months
Amount of the grant: 499 988 €
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Projet Architecture en terre : une industrie culturelle en développement. Visite officielle au chantier d'architecture en terre des classes de couture de Karadje, au Niger © CISP

Based on the cultural, social, economic and environmental dimensions of earth-based architecture, this project aims to reinforce this “cultural industry” through a series of actions: an inventorying and promotion of this cultural tradition in Niger, the creation of an exhibition gallery in the Boubou Hama Museum in Niamey, training activities for professionals, and the creation of an African earth-based architecture network.


The project was designed around six axes: a) an inventory of earthen architectural heritage; b) creation of teaching tools, c) construction and design of earthen architecture pavillon and construction of habitat prototypes within the MNBH; d) organization of training for earthen architecture professionals; e) organize a series of conferences called "The morning of earthen architecture"; f) organization of the international conference "The week of earthen architecture".

A) Inventory. To enhance the existing heritage, ANCSB crossed Niger to compile a monograph on the subject. In the same way, the partners in Mali, Burkina Faso and Cameroon have travelled across their countries to catalogue the earthen heritage and techniques that are used.

B) Educational tools. The project also made 6 documentaries. The purpose of the documentary is to inform the general public and professionals in the interest of earthen architecture and to train professionals in order to avoid misuse of materials. To complement the teaching tools, the project has made 50 scientific and experimental kits (moderator kit) for the animation of "discovery workshops".

C) Earthen Architecture Pavilion and prototypes. To give high visibility to earthen architecture and knowledge of different construction techniques the project has built a pavilion of earthen architecture within the MNBH on the basis of an international ideas competition won by the Nigerian team "B Carré". This pavilion was constructed in two different implementation techniques, stabilized earth and mud.

D) Training and schools.

E) Conferences. Two and a half years of lectures / debates / exchanges (including visits open yards and houses built of mud) preceded the holding in May 2014 in Niamey of the international conference "Architecture Week Land".

F) Symposium. The official inauguration of the three earth constructions within the MNBH marked the end of the conference. The purpose of the conference was to establish a network of earthen architecture professionals while supporting awareness, contributing to the preservation and enhancement of the architectural heritage and development of synergies between professional and cooperation between countries. Based on the technical strengthening and entrepreneurship of the professional sector this network targeted skills transfer, innovation, creativity and development of appropriate technologies. This network will also meet the needs and expectations of a changing society and in particular create job opportunities in the sector.

The partners have also set up a temporary exhibition (traveling in the 4 countries) and permanent at the Boubou Hama National Museum of Niamey, Niger: "Architecture in LAND in Niger between past and FUTURE."

The IPSC and its partners have been able to ensure that local authorities, civil society and the population take ownership of the project to enable the conditions for sustainable change behaviour. 



November 19-23 : Conference bringing together partners of the project and first Monitoring Committee

November 23:  Workshop for the official launch of the project at the National Museum Boubou Hama, in Niamey (Niger)

- 8th Conference of the Cycle " Les matinées de l’architecture en terre "

December : first meetings of the Monitoring Committee for buildings


January : 5th and 6th meetings of the Monitoring Committee for buildings

- Radio report on the project for the broadcast "C'est pas du vent" on Radio France Internationale

February 11-15: theoretical training on cataloging architectural assets in Niger

February 16: 9th Conference of the Cycle "Les matinées de l’architecture en terre "

February-April:  field mission and cataloging architectural assets in eight regions of Niger

March: Launch of the “Concours d’idées international” for the construction of a Pavilion at the National Museum Boubou Hama in Niamey, Niger.


May : an Earthen Architecture Week will be held in Niamey from 12 to 16 May 2014. The programme includes a colloquium, conferences, visits, workshops. 

Publication of a monography, presenting 40 old and new buildings.


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