Across Africa’s Sahel region, the use of concrete is increasing as living standards rise, but many architects, community leaders, and government officials say climate-battered communities need more, not fewer, traditionally-made homes, schools, and civic buildings. Architects like Francis Kéré want to preserve homegrown, nature-based traditions as well as beat the heat, especially when most of Africa faces more than two degrees Celsius of warming by late this century. Mud construction contributes little to global warming, while concrete tends to be a gateway to air-conditioning, a growing source of greenhouse gas emissions. But the same warming that has bolstered mud’s importance against heat is also triggering weather events which imperil mud structures, so Kéré and others are working to protect mud buildings from downpours, help make mud bricks more available, and show what well-built mud architecture can offer, including at a secondary school and at a technical college.

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