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These earthen houses are the houses of the future

These earthen houses are the houses of the future

In Morocco, a startup is building houses using a material found everywhere: soil.

Eco-dôme Maroc was founded in 2016. It applies local traditions to modern technology to build cool-shaped buildings that it says are cheaper, more environmentally sustainable and more energy efficient than traditional houses. ordinary concrete.

Founder Youness Ouazri says he discovered 'a tradition of earthen construction' used by previous generations while traveling around the country.

"We just took this existing knowledge and adapted it to modern technologies to come up with a concept that is environmentally friendly, cost-effective and very quick to implement," he told CNN.

These earthen houses are the houses of the future

Every home that Eco-Dome builds is unique. After the company receives an order, the first step is to analyze the composition of the soil to determine its suitability for construction.

Small amounts of lime or cement can be added for optimal performance, and thermal simulation models are used to determine the ideal thickness of the dome walls to absorb heat in the summer and release it in the winter. That means the building will use as little energy as possible for heating and cooling — sometimes none at all, says Ouazri, the engineer.

These earthen houses are the houses of the future

He adds that eco-domes are built much faster than a standard house. Prices range from about $247 per square meter to $445 and may vary by land and location.

Eco-dome builds houses using different techniques. One is called the 'superadobe', which was devised in the 1980s by Iranian-American architect Nader Khalili and uses polypropylene bags filled with soil. Other methods include using a wooden frame for the structures, to get a rectangular rather than round plan.

The first eco-dome was completed in 2017. “It was a 775 square meter house in a rural area near Rabat, the Moroccan capital, built for a client who uses it as a holiday home,” says Ouazri.

Since then, the company has built more than 100 domes in 40 different countries. The largest is a 2,700 square meter cultural center in Agouim, 70 miles south-east of Marrakech, in an area with a harsh climate that fluctuates from freezing in winter to scorching heat in summer.

'Frugal innovation'

The company, which has received about $300,000 in investment to date and employs 17 people, has three main types of customers, Ouazri says: “Landowners who want to build a primary or secondary home in the most ecological way possible; investors in rural tourism and eco-tourism; and local authorities and communities, to build schools or other infrastructure for education and health care.”

Eco-dome now aims to start construction in other countries and is looking at Tunisia and Ivory Coast as opportunities for expansion.