Tuesday, October 28, 2008


Loam bricks, made of mud and sun dried, were used to build the first apartment high rises in Shibam, Yemen about 100 AD. The 500 tower apartments have 5 to 8 stories and are up to 100 feet tall. This type of construction is interesting because it is the first example of vertical development and the materials are all, by today's standards, sustainable, because the bricks were not fired and taken from the nearby river bed.

Although the town was rebuilt twice, most recently in the 16th century, the original plans, including door and window placement, were always upheld. The site is now in danger of being destroyed again after sustaining damage in the 2008 Yemen floods. While the city has been occupied through the ages, it increasingly became a ghost town as people left for more convenient housing. Less inhabitants were left to keep up the regular maintenance needed for the mud towers. The Shibam Urban Development Project has stepped in with resources to bring the city back to life as a place to live, not as a tourist attraction.

[Shibam Urban Development Project]