The Nubian Vault Association (Voute Nubienne)

Sustainable housing for as many people as possible, as soon as possible
2011 SEED Award Winner Green Technologies Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso

The Nubian Vault Association (Association la Voûte Nubienne, AVN) offers a global solution aimed at resolving housing problems in the Sahel zone. The solution draws on an ancestral building technique that does not use wood, sheet metal or cement, and can be mastered by skilled masons according to the local market situation. AVN has developed an innovative solution to housing problems in the Sahel zone. AVN contacts local institutions and informs them about its new approach, “1 roof, 1 skill, 1 market”: “1 roof” refers to the Nubian vault, a construction technique developed by AVN that can be used to build sustainable housing. “1 skill” refers to the fact that AVN has standardised the technique used by skilled masons, who in turn train apprentices. “1 market” refers to the involvement of local extension agents trained to raise awareness about the AVN concept. The local institutions contract with AVN’s local extension agents to pass on this approach to members of the community and stimulate demand for the comfortable, robust and environmentally friendly housing constructed using this new technique. Networks of such extension agents enable the large scale dissemination of the Nubian vault market. 

Eco-Inclusive Impacts

AVN offers a global solution aimed at resolving housing problems in the Sahel zone. Drawing on ancestral building techniques that protect the environment, masons are trained with skills that improve their employability.
  • Improving people’s living conditions by facilitating access to sustainable, comfortable housing that is adapted to the local climate.
  • Providing vaulted roofs for 7,000 people in Burkina Faso, more than 70 % in rural areas.
  • Creating a Nubian vault market that provides employment for 500 people. 
  • Protecting the environment by providing an alternative to the use of trees and metal sheeting – techniques with a high carbon impact in terms of production and transportation.
  • Saving approximately 1,200 trees, avoiding use of 10,000 metal sheets and avoiding more than 2,500t CO2 emissions.
  • Injecting medium and long-term savings into the local economy.
  • Promoting the development of income-generating trade, having built >1308 Nubian vaults creating an economic impact of USD990,000. 



This enterprise is supported through its partnerships with various stakeholders, ranging from national and international organisations, investors, research institutes, suppliers, governmental bodies, NGOs, other social and environmental enterprises and more.

Association la Voûte Nubienne – Burkina Faso (AVN-BF) is in charge of implementing AVN’s strategy in Burkina Faso.

Association la Voûte Nubienne International (AVN, Nubian Vault Association) manages the international network of Voûte Nubienne subsidiaries and provides technical and financial support.

Local NGOs (e.g. Via Nebba, Association la Tortue Voyageuse) support the initiative by popularising the Nubian vault concept at the local level. 

The Hermès Foundation and Abbé Pierre Foundation are financial partners.

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