Recent projects, like the Sustainable Urban Dwelling Unit (SUDU) in Ethipia or the Mapungubwe National Park Interpretation Centre in South Africa, have shown that tile vaulting techniques using locally made, pressed soil-cement tiles successfully generated local entrepreneurship and helped to create income and employment for local communities.
The construction system employed in these projects takes advantage of funicular geometry to limit the amount of material required, and to avoid tensile reinforcements. Stresses are low within the structure, so soil tiles with relatively little material strength can be utilized. The resulting knowledge transfer was adopted in the local culture of the region, with masons privately continuing the skills they have learned, and therefore created an impact much longer than the actual building process lasted. Furthermore, the structural technique helped to avoid large embodied energy and high costs of conventional solutions. It minimized building waste and increased the independence from expensive imported materials.
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- Afritecture - Building Social Change, Edited by Andres Lepik. Architekturmuseum der TU München, Munich; Hatje Cantz Verlag. Ostfildern, 2013.
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