It is my strong opinion that walls in the buildings should be made using soil only.
Preferably, using what I call “The Iringa Method”.

OK

  • Almost everywhere the soil is “red cotton soil”.
    It is the best.
  • It is no harm to mix with sand.
    Using the proper mix will reduce the cracking when drying.
    But there is a wide margin in what is acceptable.
  • Black soil will be more difficult because it swells a lot when wet.
    I think quite a lot of sand in the mix will help.
    But I have no experience and have not seen anything.
  • Soil only.
    Poles in the soil have no function when considering strength or durability.
    I know that most people in Africa will have poles in the walls.
    It may be because the house (round hut) should be finished in one day.
    (Reference: Kenyatta’s book Facing Mount Kenya)
    But poles in the wall will have no function. Only they will attract termites.
  • The walls should of course be constructed during the dry season and an experienced “craftsman” should be hired – at least for the beginning.
  • The Iringa people, the Wahaha, build up say 30 cm wall, 30 cm thick and wait (a week ?) for this to be strong (dry) enough to carry further 30 cm
    And soon, you have a good wall.
  • As soon as the wall starts to dry, it will crack.
    OK: You just plaster the cracks with new soil.
    It is what my grandfather did in the springtime.
  • Such a wall will need a good hat and some good boots.
    The “HAT” is a good roof in such a way that rainwater does not run (too much) down the wall.
    The “BOOTS” is both a good drainage and
    “Build on a little elevation”.
    Whatever you use, a little elevation will give a dry building.
    Often this is forgotten – also in nice and expensive houses.
  • In Malawi I have seen a slightly different approach using a sliding form.
    In Mbeya, it is preferred to use sundried bricks.
    Burned bricks will look more aristocratic.
    It is not much better.
    BUT it will eat too much of the limited resources.

Some people say that it will fail at the first rain.
HOWEVER
I have seen several houses that have lasted for a very long time.
Here I quote a man saying that he did not know.
But – – – you see – – –
“I think it was built by my grandfather.”

A little humoristic, but still very seriously, I say:
——-When the walls crack you will do a proper repair.
——-And much later your grandchildren will say:
——-“I can not understand how the old man could build a house, and the ——-walls, they did not crack.”

This applies also for houses using the usual – poor quality – concrete blocks.

Finally I will note that a (European) professor in Nairobi lived in a house where the walls were “Soil Only.
The floor was good concrete. He had both cold and warm water.

Anchoring the roof

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