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How the Dorze in Ethiopia make ‘beehive’ houses from bamboo that last a lifetime

On the Nomadic Architecture YouTube channel, the UK architect Gordon Clarke chronicles how people across the globe use ancient traditions and local resources to construct sustainable houses that suit their needs. In this instalment, he captures the Dorze people of the Gamo highlands in southern Ethiopia as they build bamboo houses that, with a good deal of maintenance, are intended to last residents a lifetime. Starting with raw bamboo, the Dorze builders split and weave the material into a sturdy structure that looks like a beehive. The huts are then thatched with a layer of straw and finished with an outer layer of bamboo sheath. Construction takes teams of three to four craftsmen roughly two weeks to complete. The process is notable not just for the eye-catching final structures that result, but also for its elegant simplicity, requiring lots of bamboo – even the ladders and scaffolding are built from it – some very simple tools, and craftsmanship skills refined over generations.

17 March 2022

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