Exploring local materials and methods

An integral part of our practice is drawing from the wealth of local resources available in Gando and its surrounding area. Local knowledge is an invaluable resource, as the people of Gando are well attuned to the regional climatic conditions and have gathered experience over generations of working with locally available materials, namely clay.

Building on this knowledge, we have developed several innovative ways of working with clay to improve its durability and adapt it to larger-scale buildings. We also endeavour to embed traditional artisanship into our buildings, such as the long-standing craft of making ceramic pots. Always mindful of fostering a balanced ecosystem, we have devised imaginative uses of natural resources, for example eucalyptus wood, as part of a reforestation effort. The use of local materials is not only environmentally sustainable but also stimulates the local economy and strengthens the identity of Gando’s built heritage.

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"Design needs to be embedded in the reality: the reality is the climate, the reality is the people.”

Francis Kéré
Architect and Founder of Kéré Foundation e.V.



Piles of red clay. Photo by Francis Kéré
Clay casting samples. Photo by Francis Kéré
Building up an adobe wall. Photo by Francis Kéré
Polishing a rammed earth floor. Photo by Francis Kéré
Traditional clay plastering. Photo by Francis Kéré

As a naturally occurring and readily available organic material, clay is both affordable and environmentally sustainable. Clay walls also provide thermal mass, absorbing heat throughout the day and improving a building’s thermal comfort.

Many of our built projects are made of compacted earth bricks produced on site, used in combination with reinforced concrete elements to create more durable and large-scale buildings. Since 2011, we have been fine-tuning an innovative method of casting walls using a mixture of clay, aggregates and minimal amounts of cement.

In the region surrounding Gando, clay is gradually being replaced by concrete and various imported construction materials. By showcasing the potential of clay as a desirable and contemporary building material, our projects also play a political role in promoting a reappropriation of vernacular building practices.

Explore our practice