Chic African Culture Africa Factbook

Beauty and Sustainability of African Cob Houses

The African natural environment integrates all living things in the natural world. 

Earth or Cob houses are not new, in fact old methods of building clay and mud homes in Africa are now popular in cities since the demand is high. The inspiration for natural housing materials such as sand, straw and clay from the natural world in both rural and urban African communities has not changed in thousands of years.
Beauty and Sustainability of African Cob Houses
African Cob House 


African people have always maintained a connection with the natural world.

The use of natural elements and materials in all aspects of traditional African life is a testimony to the profound way that nature shapes the existence of African people. Natural elements such as stone, wood, animal hides and feathers, mud, clay, shells, flowers, grasses, trees, leaves, branches, chalk and other natural elements have been shaped into shelters, household goods, medicine, clothing and jewelry for thousands of years.

African Earth houses construction is as strong as concrete and lasts for a thousand years, in fact parts of the Great Wall of China were built with rammed earth and it's still standing today. In America earth houses are known as Cob homes. Cob refers to the building material, which is a mix of clay, sand, and straw with lime sometimes mixed in.

Earth or Cob houses are not new, in fact old methods of building clay and mud homes in Africa are now popular in cities since the demand for houses is high and construction cost in 30% less than conventional building techniques and creating a host of new jobs.

African Earth houses are both affordable and Eco-friendly

African Earth houses are both affordable and Eco-friendly on a continent where most things are very sustainable and renewable natural resources are plentiful. Most houses are made with a mixture of sand gravel and nontraditional with just a little bit of cement added. After making the mix, mud is put into blocks and sun-dried to form bricks. These mud bricks are then used to make walls, and are plastered with the same mud mix.

Compared to conventional buildings made of concrete, earth homes have good indoor air quality. Earth houses are naturally insulated, so they will be cool in summers and warm in winters helping to save electricity. 

African Cob Earth Houses that have been around for many decades or even centuries.

African Cob Earth Houses that have been around for many decades or even centuries. One such example is the village of Tiébélé in Burkina Faso, West Africa. Tiébélé is home to a community of around 1,500 people who live in traditional African Cob Earth Houses that have been decorated with intricate and colorful designs. The village is believed to have been founded in the 15th century and some of the homes have been passed down through generations of families. 

Another example is the Great Mosque of Djenné in Mali, which is the largest mud-brick building in the world. The mosque was first constructed in the 13th century and has been rebuilt and renovated several times over the centuries. The mosque is made from sun-dried mud bricks and has a distinctive design that incorporates wooden beams and palm fronds.

Cob building is a traditional and eco-friendly building technique

Cob building is a traditional and eco-friendly building technique that has been used in Africa for centuries. It involves creating walls from a mixture of clay, sand, and straw, which is then compacted and shaped into solid blocks or applied as a plaster over a frame made of wood, bamboo, or other locally sourced materials. Cob building is known for its durability, energy efficiency, and low environmental impact. 

The thick walls provide natural insulation, keeping homes cool in hot weather and warm in cold weather. Cob buildings are also resistant to pests, fire, and weather damage. Because the materials used in cob building are readily available and require little processing, this building technique is often more affordable than other forms of construction. Cob building has been used for a variety of structures in Africa, from homes and schools to community buildings and even palaces. 

In recent years, there has been a resurgence of interest in cob building in Africa and around the world, as people seek out sustainable and environmentally friendly alternatives to conventional building methods. Cob building workshops and training programs have been established in many African countries to promote this technique and empower communities to build their own homes and structures using locally sourced materials.

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