The Nubian Vault Programme

All of humanity now has the option to “make it” successfully and sustainably, by virtue of our having minds, discovering principles and being able to employ these principles to do more with less.” -R. Buckminster Fuller

The Nubian Vault Programme (AVN), a Fuller Challenge Semi-finalist in 2012 and 2014, has demonstrated a remarkable capacity to adapt and replicate its sustainable housing program, now deployed throughout 5 African countries. Aiming to create comprehensive change in human livelihoods while addressing the critical need for housing across the arid Sahel region of Africa, the program integrates its ecologically sustainable, time-tested Nubian Vault construction technique into local economic circuits, relying entirely on local labor and raw materials, creating autonomous markets for local entrepreneurs, and successfully making a previously unsustainable housing system obsolete.

Our mission is to provide an adapted housing system for the largest number of people possible. Housing is at the center of all human activities, and its importance is often underestimated in development issues. We are trying to disseminate a technique and to make it sustainable in the long-run, relying on real markets.” –Giulio Cocchini, Nubian Vault Programme National Coordinator, Ghana

Habitats are precarious for the majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the UN and the World Resources Institute, more than 50% of Sahelian people lack access to decent housing. Deforestation makes it impossible for materials such as straw and wood to fuel housing markets. Households sacrifice their food, health, and education budgets in order to buy expensive, imported metal construction materials, plunging them deeper into a vicious cycle of poverty. The Nubian Vault Programme, however, is successfully working to make this unsustainable housing system obsolete. With 2,800 Nubian Vaults built on 1,500 constructions sites, in more than 700 villages, 2 million Euros returned to local economies, 380 Nubian Vault masons, over 400 apprentices in training, and over 20,000 direct beneficiaries to date, thanks to the work of 14 regional teams, this viral housing program has affected comprehensive change in human quality of life and local economies for the past 15 years. Nubian Vault homes are sourced from locally available raw materials and can last over 100 years, compared to the average 10-year lifespan of sheet metal roof-buildings. AVN meets social challenges with social entrepreneurship, giving previously unskilled local people job opportunities and lifetime skills through their training as masons, subsequently creating self-sustaining markets and a virtuous cycle of economic development. AVN uses the market to validate the technical concept, and the market thus becomes the vector of large-scale dissemination. Currently deployed in Burkina Faso, Senegal, Mali, Benin, and Ghana, AVN is seeking to replicate its model in Mauritania, Zambia, Sudan, Guinea, and several other countries in the Sahel and central and southern Africa. AVN is also responding to the demand to, adapt its model to urban as well as rural settings, both for private and community uses. With unique success in the realms of ecological and economic sustainability, cultural attunement to local conditions, and social empowerment, AVN is one of the most successful and exceptionally viral housing projects in the world.

For more information, please visit the Nubian Vault Programme website: