It’s a sweltering 90F in Kaya, the midday sun beating down on the low-slung city in central Burkina Faso. But inside the Morija Medical Clinic on the outskirts, vaulted ceilings made of pressed adobe keep the temperature several degrees cooler.
“Burkinabé builders have used mud for generations to build smaller dwellings, but also multistory buildings and impressive mosques,” says Clara Sawadogo, the 35-year-old Burkinabé architect who worked on the clinic with Switzerland-based firm Nomos Architects, placing her hand on a massive earthen wall. “Can you feel it’s cooler? That’s because the walls are breathing, literally. The mud lets the air circulate. Unfortunately, much of the technique has been forgotten.”