What Are Adobe Buildings?

The window of a classic adobe house.

What Are Adobe Buildings?

Adobe buildings are constructed by organic soil and matter. The word “adobe” stems from the Spanish name which means “mud brick.” Adobe is one of the earliest building materials in human history and was applied throughout the world. Adobe has been in use among the Indigenous American people of the southwestern US for thousands of years. Adobe construction was popular due to its simplicity, and low cost as its basic components, earth, water and straw fibers were easily available.

History of Adobe Construction

Construction of adobe buildings can be traced to the dawn of human civilization. Ancient Egyptians used this simple technology to construct brick house whose remnants are dated back to 3800 BC. Several historians and archeologists point Mesopotamia as the cradle of the use of adobe bricks which later spread to Egypt where mud from River Nile mixed with straw were used to construct simple houses. People began to use Adobe technology for their housing after realizing its durability compared to the existing alternatives (tents and hides).


Adobe building bricks are made of a mixture of earth and water. An organic fiber was added to the mixture to act as a binder, and chopped straw was the most popular material. The earth that was used had high clay content and low sand in order to have water retention properties. The mixture was then molded to form small bricks and left to dry in the sun. When ready, the cured bricks were then placed on multiple courses which were held together by applying moist mud between the adjoining bricks. Modern constructions on the contrary use fire-cured bricks which are more stable and less prone to cracking. These bricks also can hold greater weights enabling construction of multi-storied buildings.

Modern Adobe Construction

In the modern day exists a variation of adobe construction, with several improvements and alterations made during construction. In modern adobe building, cement is added in the making of the bricks which is a better binding agent than chopped straw. The bricks are then fire-cured increasing their stability. Another improvement is made during walling where steel is used to reinforce the strength of the walls.


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