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Mud architecture in Yemen: a cultural legacy and a solution to climate change

Mud architecture in Yemen represents one of the reasonable solutions to confront climate change and the rising costs of electricity generation.

وادي حضرموت مثال للعمارة الطينية في اليمن
Wadi Hadhramaut is an example of mud architecture in Yemen

Building with clay has been popular in many Yemeni locations since ancient times, and clay is still used as a basic building material in several areas, including Hadramaut, Shabwa, Saada, and Al-Jawf. Burnt clay and animal dung bricks are also employed in other places such as Sanaa, and this style is regarded as an intrinsic aspect of Yemen's distinguished architecture. It is important to note that Sanaa, Shibam Hadhramaut, and Zabid are all World Humanitarian Heritage sites.

Despite the invasion of modern construction, which includes cement as one of its essential components, in many Yemeni cities, building with clay is developing as one of the important solutions in the face of worldwide interest in environmentally friendly practices to combat climate change.

Because of its inherent sustainability and durability, mud architecture, also known as earth building, has emerged as a compelling answer in the face of climate change. Clay is a plentiful natural material that requires low energy-intensive extraction and preparation methods. Mud structures have high thermal mass, which allows them to automatically control temperature by absorbing heat during the day and gently releasing it at night. This passive cooling effect lowers the need for energy-intensive appliances like air conditioners while generating comfortable indoor spaces even in hot climates.

Furthermore, because clay buildings do not require high-temperature burning or significant manufacturing procedures, they have a lower carbon footprint than standard construction materials such as concrete or steel. Communities can reduce transportation emissions connected with long-distance material supply networks by adopting locally sourced clay. Furthermore, by utilizing soil excavated from site preparation activities rather than exploiting virgin land for construction purposes, mud architecture encourages sustainable land use practices. This technique contributes to the preservation of ecosystems and the prevention of deforestation while also providing cost-effective housing alternatives for vulnerable communities threatened by climate-related displacement issues.

Reaffirming the genius of clay building is necessary not only because of its ability to combat climate change, but also because it represents part of the identity and culture of the Yemeni person, giving him a sense of pride and belonging, which undoubtedly improves social cohesion in a war-torn country.


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