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MPhil in Engineering for Sustainable Development

global challenges, engineering solutions

Studying at Cambridge

Sherin Sameh

Investigating Earth Architecture as a Sustainable Building Approach in Egypt

The resource scarcity, energy problems, and pollution resulting from the use of conventional building materials, in addition to the rising costs of construction and transportation fuels are all factors driving many countries to consider low impact, cheap building technologies that are more environmentally friendly and appropriate for use in the modern context. In return, this directs attention back to earth which has been used as a building material for thousands of years through which it has successfully illustrated many technical, economic, social and environmental benefits that could fulfil the need for an alternative to the conventional processed materials. 

The rising demand for affordable housing units in Egypt presents a good opportunity to revive the use of earth architecture. Earth is strongly related to the physical, social and economic context of the country. It can help to accommodate changing demographics, including future income levels and provide possible opportunities for the phased expansion of the unit over time to accommodate household's growth. Earth architecture will help in applying sustainable development principles, limiting the consumption of non-renewable resources and maintaining a healthy dwelling, environment and land use. It also utilizes an efficient and locally acceptable method of construction and material, which minimizes the length of construction time. Furthermore it can help to minimize the lifecycle costs of units by reducing construction, maintenance and operating costs, and maximizing the functional life of the dwelling unit. Consequently it can relate to economical efficiency in buildings.

 

However, the lack of a niche for sustainable building materials and the presence of other dominating processed materials in this market are main barriers against the promotion of earth architecture. Consequently there is a need to investigate earth architecture in Egypt and develop an overview of the construction market in to identify opportunities that can help to promote earth architecture, revive traditional techniques, and enhance the use of local building materials as a sustainable alternative on the long run.