The majestic woven huts of the Dorze people in southern Ethiopia. When new the tallest of these reach up to twelve meters, made of a bamboo cage structure, thatched with local grass, bamboo or ensete (false banana) leaves. Well maintained a Dorze hut can easily last a century.
The older a Dorze home is, the lower it gets: the bamboo poles are attacked by termites and ground moisture, which is why maintenance often involves cutting off a couple of decimeters of the bamboo poles that touches the ground, every few years.
It would take a young couple about three months to build a hit for themselves, so often specialized craftsmen (who are trained in a master-apprentice sort of system are called in). As part of the payment, all meals are included. A clever trick to make sure workmen show up.
The hut is very sturdy and can simply be picked up and moved by teams of locals if a better place is found, or if the present place is too infested by termites. The basket structure means building is easily done with scaffolding in the form of poles struck through the hut itself.
The height and earth floor means you have a clever natural cooling system: hot air raises to the top, several meters away, and the cool tamped earth floor keeps the lower air cool. Indoor fires are no problem because smoke naturally percolates through the thatch, preserving it.
It is difficult to grow enough materials for your hut yourself, so local markets is a good place to pick up more of what you need. And of course preparing and selling building material is a popular "cottage industry." Bamboo leaf sheets are the most durable, beautiful, expensive.

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More from @wrathofgnon

23 Apr
All countries have their defining flowers, Dutch tulips, the English rose, for example. Today we associate Japan with the Cherry blossom, or maybe the Chrysanthemum, but for about 300 years, the Safflower (Carthamus tinctorius) was a major player in Japanese agricultural-economy.
Once grown all over the country as a major cash crop, today it is only properly grown in the iconic Tachiya River valley in Yamagata prefecture, where locals liked to bring impressed Imperial and Shogunate officials to view the endless fields of orange flowers from the mountain.
The flower arrived in Japan via Korea, according to tradition, in 538 A.D. It had come a long way from its origin on the shores of the rive Nile in Egypt (it probably made its way via the silk route together with Roman Imperial glassware which has also been found in Japan).
Read 10 tweets
23 Apr
So how do we fix unsustainable cities and suburbs? How do we go back from the machine scale to the human scale? In the same way that a one-size-fits-all sort of lifestyle was imposed on our cities, there are going to be as many solutions as there are cities and developments...
...a combination of leading by example, studying the past while trying to put ourselves in the shoes of those coming after us. Both carrots and whips. There is no need to raze and rebuild, rather we should consolidate, and stop subsidizing that which can't be sustained.
Good cities are always built on the human scale, useful to anyone regardless of age or possession of a driver's license, and have access to sun and water to some degree. Apart from that they can differ, a city in Algeria will look and work differently from a city in Ecuador.
Read 8 tweets
20 Apr
Three myths of cars:
1. Without cars we can't get around.
It is because of all the space devoted to cars and car infrastructure that we need them to get around in the first place. Traditional cities are compact and usable by anyone on foot or wheel.
Three myths of cars:
2. It would take draconian rules to rid our cities of cars.
It is because of draconian rules that we can't build the kind of neighborhoods and cities where we don't need them: try going against your city zoning laws, building codes, traffic regulations etc.
3. We need cars for the large populations of cities.
Modern cities typically devote 55% of their surface space to parking, and less than 2-3% to homes and housing. Add traffic infrastructure to this and you end up with what we have now: cities built for cars.
Read 4 tweets
14 Apr
Beautiful 3D reconstruction of the acropolis of Pergamon, one of the largest cities of the ancient world. Building something of this size is one thing, but how did they supply a city built on top of a 350m tall mountain without springs in an arid climate?
The water infrastructure of Pergamon was a wonder of the ancient world. At first they used cisterns to store rainwater, but the city quickly outgrew what they could possible hope to harvest and store, so they dug deep wells, so deep they could only be used for emergencies...
In the 2nd century B.C. they built a system of clay pipes connecting a series of natural springs up to 25km away to two sediment basins 4km away from the acropolis, at a height of 376m. But the acropolis was separated from the reservoir by a deep valley. How to get water across?
Read 7 tweets
10 Apr
The 1912 old Yokohama Rubber Co. Hall is a gorgeous example of how to build to achieve comfort in sub-tropical climates without modern air conditioning: tall ceilings and windows and a large cupola ensures natural ventilation, the wrap around porch controls solar (over) heating. Image
All buildings are compromises, and with bearable winters and unbearable summers you build to see you through the summers. Indoor humidity is effectively controlled by plaster and wooden surfaces throughout over a breathable timber frame. ImageImage
The company wanted to tear it down in 2003 but a public and official outcry stopped the destruction and it is now open to the public. Beauty literally saved it. Here are my own photos from today's visit. ImageImage
Read 4 tweets
9 Apr
There is no way we can keep up the waste that is single use packaging. The future will be reusable containers brought from home and bulk markets in everything from wine to shampoo. And we will be better, healthier, richer, and happier for it.
"But Wrath, bringing your old jars to fill with milk or pickles from a barrel is unhygienic!"
"I sterilize my old jars by the dozen, we could've shop staff or machines sterilize the jars customers bring in. It'ld also cut down greatly on food waste to always buy just enough."
“But Wrath, I have a big brain and a phd in economics and your idea is inefficient and expensive. We can't afford it!”
“But we can afford this?”
Read 5 tweets

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