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The Architecture of Mud

Dir. Caterina Borelli

Duration: 53 minutes

Production: 1999

Language: English (subtitles)


The Hadhramaut region in the south east of Yemen is well known for its mud brick architecture. Throughout the centuries, the population has developed very sophisticated building techniques and created a unique architectural environment. Spectacular structures such as ten-story mud brick tower houses rise up from the valley's floor. In interviews throughout the documentary, the masons describe their working techniques and the challenges they face with the introduction of new, imported building materials. The Architecture of Mud documents the vernacular architecture, the building craft and the society they belong to.


This documentary is an archival record for the Yemenis - and for the world - of a stunning architectural environment that is rapidly disappearing. Because it describes construction practices that are almost obsolete, it will be a valuable tool also to other cultures where earthen architecture is traditional. It could assist in the preservation of adobe sites in the American Southwest, Latin America, Africa, Europe and Middle Eastern archaeological excavations. This program was first shown in the villages where it was made. The response was very positive and copies were donated to the collection of the National Museum and the local Museum of Hadhramaut. The Architecture of Mud is intended for universities with curricula in Cultural Heritage Preservation, Architecture, Urban Studies and Planning, Middle East and Arabic Studies, and Visual Anthropology.

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