History of the Adobe House


Adobe is one of the earliest building materials and is still in use today. This article of adobe’s interesting facts will make you appreciate it more.


A lot of adobe houses have stuck to the traditional designs that include a flat roof with beams which support the rooms that stick out to the exterior walls. However, some homes feature conventional roofing but that depends on the design.

passive energy homes

“Passive energy homes” are homes built with the energy efficiency in mind. Adobe homes are certainly passive energy homes which provide savings in energy year-round. Adobe’s solid, compact earth walls can significantly help in reducing your use of energy.

Adobe walls provide the perfect insulation during the evening or cold weather, keeping you warm. At the same time, they also help cool you down during those sweltering summer days. You won’t need to turn on the air-conditioning unit or heater as long as your house is built in adobe. If you want to add more warmth in the interiors you can install a traditional fireplace (adobes are fireproof, by the way) or choose for a thermal heat pump.


The Poeh Museum in Pojoaque, New Mexico, features Native American artworks. Its tower contains the “Tower Gallery” which was constructed with traditional Pueblo architectural details.


One of the famous building constructed in adobe is the Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali. Completed in 1907, this mosque is an ideal representation of the Sudano-Sahelian architectural style.

Church of San Pedro de Atacama

Adobe is one of the earliest building materials known to mankind. Adobe comes from the Middle Egyptian word dbt or dj-b-t (yes, no vowels!) which means “mud brick.” As Middle Egyptian eventually evolved into Coptic several centuries later, the word became tobe. This was taken into the Arabian al-tub or tuba, which was later adapted into Old Spanish adobe, with the meaning still unchanged. The English language later adopted the word adobe┬áduring the 18th century.


Making adobe bricks is quite a dirty work… literally. The bricks form from a mixture of clay, soil, sand, and water. Straw is added into the mix, on occasion. The mixture is poured into a mold or is hydraulically pressed to form a brick, and is then air-dried or dried under the sun.

adobe bricks

The surface of the adobe is notoriously fragile and so it needs to be regularly maintained in order to prolong its useful life. Surface coatings strengthen the exterior as well as the interior surfaces. The coatings may include mud plaster, whitewash, lime plaster, and stucco which help slow down the degradation of the surface.


The usual elements found in adobe construction consist of bricks (the components of an adobe brick are mentioned earlier), mortar, foundations, walls, floors, bond beams, lintels, footings and stem walls.


Although adobe structures are more common in Africa, the Americas and in the Middle East, some continents also have homes built with adobe, like this one in Romania.


It has been used since 4,000 years ago!


Proof of the adobe’s durability is the ancient houses and buildings built with it. Adobe homes are also highly fire-resistant. However, they are not still spared from earthquakes. Adobe houses can also be susceptible to tremors especially if they are not constructed properly, like in many other structures built with other materials.

Adobe housing

Adobe housing can be quite adaptable to many architectural styles, and thus the decor theme can vary depending on the home’s overall design. If your adobe home is built in the traditional Pueblo style, furnish it with decors with Southwestern or Native American themes such as rugs with multi-colored patterns as well as artwork. Outside, the walls of the adobe home should surround a patio with lots of drought-resistant plants such as cacti, a fire pit, and even some rocks.

If your adobe house is built in modern architecture, it works best with the usual sleek and modern furnishings and appliances like a state-of-the-art kitchen.


Like in other homes, adobe homes have the typical concrete slab foundation. The foundation has concrete footings embedded into the soil to hold up the walls. The depth of the footings depends on several factors such as the width and height of the walls, their total weight as well as the local building ordinances. To provide the walls with tensile strength and thus prevent them from crumbling (in the event of earthquakes), the bricks are made with holes so that they can be fitted with the reinforcement steels. Building codes may require structures to include a concrete or wood ring beam to make sure the walls remain standing up during earthquakes.