Date of Award


Document Type



Santa Clara University


Civil Engineering

First Advisor

Tracy Abbott

Second Advisor

James Reites


Sustainable homes are difficult for the people of Gambibgo, Ghana to build, as there are few natural building materials in the area other than earth and water, and their subsistencefarming lifestyle leaves very little money for the purchase of sourced material like lumber, steel, or cement. Traditional homes in Gambibgo are constantly rebuilt, costing the communityaround $250 at least once every five years. Our team, with Father James Reites, S.J. and two alums, traveled to Gambibgo in March 2015 with an earthen roof design we had hoped to implement on the existing walls of thecommunity's homes. Upon our arrival we realized that our assumptions regarding the stability of a set of existing walls were incorrect, which led to our implementation of a Nubian vault, whileworking with the Nubian Vault Association (AVN), a non-governmental organization founded 15 years ago in France. With the help of AVN and two experienced Nubian vault masons, the Gambibgo community constructed the first Nubian vault built in rural Ghana by the local population. The success of this building method relies on the ability of AVN to attract investors; however, the AVNhas little to no technical data regarding the structural analysis of the building method. Our research provided us with useful information regarding Nubian vaults, and this research will becontinued in the following academic year as two rising seniors, Philip Mirenda and JosephPapangellin. These individuals will continue the analysis of the Nubian vault to soon provide the AVN with information that will attract investors to this sustainable buildingmethod.