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© La Voûte Nubienne

Architectural research in Mali

Architectural research on a "Nubian vault"-style building in Mali

The Air Liquide Foundation is involved in a pilot architectural research project in Mali on how to adapt the "Nubian vault" construction technique to urban living.

A traditional construction method

La Voûte Nubienne association was founded in 2000 by a French builder and a farmer from Burkina Faso. The Association works to popularize the “voûte nubienne” (Nubian vault) technique used to build earth roofs through the program “Toits en Terre au Sahel” (“Earth Roofs for the Sahel”). The Air Liquide Foundation contributed to the programme, whose purpose is to popularize this technique in the pilot region of Ségou-Koutiala north-east of Bamako.

Transition to a new construction technique

Now the association is launching the "no maintenance" Nubian vault in medium-size cities in Mali, where it is difficult to carry out building maintenance due to urban density. This constraint, therefore, requires some careful architectural and technical thinking on how to adapt a new coating to allow the building to last longer.

To this end, the association is constructing a pilot building with support from the Air Liquide Foundation. Several types of coating that stick to earth surfaces will be tested. In order to popularize this sustainable construction method, the association has prepared technical guides for different building types designed for medium-sized cities and is training builders to use this technique.

The builders trained on site and the area's inhabitants, who have gained an understanding of the "no maintenance" Nubian vault technique, will be able to continue to sustain the project and share this construction method with others.


  • Project initiator: La Voûte Nubienne association
  • Location: Koutiala, Sikasso region, Mali
  • Year of support: 2014
  • Air Liquide sponsor: Harouana Ouattara, Air Liquide Mali

Discover other projects supported by the Air Liquide Foundation