Marsh Arabs Learn To Mix Adobe And Reeds In Construction

Categories: Homes / Dwellings
Local contractors construct the main reed arches of a marsh Arab mudhif. The house is a blend of adobe and reed building materials used frequently by marsh Arabs in southeast Iraq. Construction of the

The objective of the project is to merge traditional building methods with modern materials in a way that could maximize the use of local construction materials. The use of inexpensive marsh reeds, whether as mats or support columns, a soil foundation, and modern adobe bricks, are the basic elements needed to build the houses, promoting sustainability and allowing locals to replicate the buildings without much expenditures on construction materials.

“This model Adobe House is an architectural example that can be easily replicated in the surrounding area. The province plans to use the modernized mudhif to house eco-tourists in the coming years as part of birding expeditions into the marshes,” explained Sgt. 1st. Class Darell Walker, project officer with Task Force Pathfinder.

“The concept and design of the house are intended to showcase the cultural significance of the mudhifs and reed huts that have been used in the area since recorded history, bearing in mind the climate of the area,” explained Maj. Eric Russell, an Army engineer and operations officer for Task Force Pathfinder. “Each of the houses has a modern service module that includes a bathroom and a kitchen.”

There is a tremendous need for housing projects in the Marshlands to accommodate returning refugees as well as the growing population of villages and cities in and around the marshes.

As with all traditional societies, Iraq continues to experience change. The land and the people are resilient and welcome many of these changes.

A new government system is in place with the tender shoots of democracy beginning to emerge from this desert-dwelling nation. Like the ‘mudhif,’ an ancient structure rebuilt to reflect modernization, the people of Iraq are embracing a new time and place in the world.

By Maj. Eric F. Russell

Traditional Mudhif construction:

Reeds have also be used for poorly insulated homes on the exterior to provide much needed insulation:  

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