Majority of buildings in Northern Nigeria are still constructed using traditional
techniques and materials (timber, bamboo). Once again, in the most recent years
there has been an increase use of modern techniques for building development, driven
by a range of factors including requests for more rapid construction, the sustainability
of construction and shortage of skilled labor. Natural building materials, such as stone,
wood, straw, sheep's wool, fibers, hemp, cork and clay are examples of the traditional
building materials. But, in the last fifteen years, there has been an upturn of interest in
natural and unconventional construction materials. Housing is among the most basic
human needs, it is a vital component towards a sustainable environmental
development. Sustainability has been characterized as a development of the economy
that satisfies the needs of the current generation without compromising the

opportunity and the potential the future generations. [Xun, 2011] Generally,
sustainability is divided into three sectors, which includes economic, environmental,
and social sectors, which represent three pillars of sustainable development [Yonggao,
2007]. In the design world, sustainable construction affects the short and long term
economic goals [Jingtang, 2012]. Traditional building materials cut the cost of the
overall construction by an easier construction process, low transportation costs and
lower economic demands. Social sustainability focuses on the building users. The
occupants need (current and future) to influence the building design, which creates a
highly-flexible plan that lets the building to be easily re-purposed as needs change by
the design. A structure that can be used for a very long time portrays a flexible design,
which prevents the negative impact involved in tearing down an existing building and
rebuilding a new one [4]. An increase in the efficient energy use of a building addresses
its environmental sustainability, therefore, the structure should be designed in such a
way that it utilizes the natural energy for both heating and other energy needed
activities. It also entails installing water reduction measures, waste management and
using green and local building materials. In relation to site context, the location and
orientation of a building can make it more environmentally friendly. According to the
three pillars of sustainable development, the main advantages of the use of traditional
building materials in modern methods of entails the following: [Jingtang, 2012]
Economic sustainability; entails construction of buildings by modern building methods
using traditional materials have less effect and they can be built quickly. A better

standard is provided and quality of design and the process of construction can be
zoomed up by mass production of prefabricated components in factories or on site.
Social sustainability; dwells on the methods and materials that have fewer accidents
and less impact on local residents during construction and as well the reduction in
labor intensive activities and establishment of a safer working environment. To help
reduce unsuccessful work, Architects and contractors from different places can work
closely together in the early design stage. Environmental sustainability; entails less
transport of materials, and produce lesser amount of waste, for an efficient energy use
throughout the life cycle of the building.


It has become increasingly glaring that most of the urban population live in
dehumanising housing environment while those that have access to average housing
do so at abnormal cost (Olugbenga, 2001). In developing countries like Nigeria, a
home of one's own represents a precious refuge. Literature on housing in developing
countries often show that housing ranks above education and health services as a
priority. Thus households in developing countries value homeownership more than
households in advanced industrialized countries. In fact in most developing nations
when a family does not have a house they can call their own, that family is regarded as
the poorest of the poor. Provision of affordable housing for the citizenry has remained
the principal focus of every successive government in Nigeria.

This is because of the pivotal roles played by housing in national development and
growth on one hand and its being a necessity in the life of the people, on the other
Sustainable construction requires a critical review of prevailing practices, techniques
and sources for raw materials. The rising cost of building is a source of concern to
most governments in the world, especially in the developing countries. One possible
cause is the rising cost of building materials since greater percentage of the cost of
buildings is incurred on the materials (Yalley & Kwan, 2008). In the case of Africa, for
example, there is an acute lack of affordable houses which is largely due to the high
cost of the conventionally processed construction materials such as steel and Portland
cement. The desire generated for these materials has a negative impact, leading to
reduced value and perceived inappropriateness of locally available materials. Ideally,
building materials for low-cost housing should be produced from locally available raw
materials. Furthermore, it would be best if these raw materials were abundantly
available or they should be renewable in nature (RICS, 2008). Over- reliance on
foreign and imported building materials is not the only contributing factor of rising
cost of buildings but also the transportation from urban areas to rural areas and vice
versa especially in the face of this current fuel scarcity and hike in Nigeria.
The Nigeria housing question is primarily that of a crisis situation, manifesting and
expressing itself in qualitative and quantitative forms. Although the present housing
difficulty in Nigeria arises not necessarily because of poverty, but because of the

absence of an effective administrative arm to mobilize and organise the country's
natural resources, human, industrial, etc, for housing and urban development.
However, the problem of poor co-ordination and ineffectiveness of some public
housing agencies in Nigeria is in most cases responsible for the failure of certain
laudable housing policies and programmes.
Housing delivery is a highly contentious and politicised issue that is of great concern
to administrators, scholars and the public in Nigeria. In the last few decades, the influx
of people into urban areas, the natural population increase and inadequate responses
by the government have contributed to the worsening housing situation in the
country (Afolabi & Oamide 2012). These problems have become more critical in the
cities, where huge housing supply deficits, dilapidated housing conditions, high cost of
housing as well as proliferation of slums and squatter settlements exist (Ajanlekoko,
2002, Akeju, 2007). As a result, a large majority of urban residents, particularly the
low-income earners who constitute about 50% of Nigeria’s 160 million people are
forced to live in conditions that constitute an affront to human dignity (Alemayehu,
The paper appraises the study of selected indigenous building materials and their
applications in contemporary architecture.

Imported building materials from outside the country are always scares and
expensive due to the cost of importation. As a result of this problem, traditional or

indigenous materials are used in contemporary architectural design. Some major local
building material available in Nigeria such as adobe, bamboo, thatch, stones, timber,
coconut tree, grasses etcetera. These materials are cheap relative to the imported
materials from outside the country. This study is on a study of selected indigenous
building materials and their applications in contemporary architecture

It is the purpose of this thesis to examine traditional indigenous architecture and
investigate possible current and future architectural applications. Indigenous arid land
architecture of both the past and present will be examined in several contexts: image,
environment, economics, technology, and culture.

Natural building materials are used by modern methods of construction because they
have lower embodied energy than conventional materials and they increase the usage
of renewable and recyclable materials. The traditional building materials refer to the
floorboard of traditional building structure of all materials, including the sintering
products (brick and tile), gravel, limestone (lime, gypsum, wood and bamboo). The
traditional building materials have the advantages of saving materials, transportation
energy consumption, good thermal performance etc. At the same time, the use of
traditional materials directly reflects the regionalism, but regional material does not
only mean the use of traditional materials. It should focus more on the face of the

specific geographical environment, and how traditional materials to reflect the
building here.

This study will expose the reader to the advantages of using indigenous building
materials in contemporary architecture, such as, In the process of architectural design
and construction, the use of traditional building materials can save energy, manpower,
and practice the concept of ecological environmental protection.
The study found promotion of cultural heritage, availability and affordability of the
materials, energy efficiency, reusability, biodegradability among others as the major
advantages of traditional building materials. However, acceptability, durability,
deforestation, low strength, frequent maintenance, among other issues were found to
be the major challenges associated with houses built with traditional building

During the process of carrying out this study it was discovered that when compared
with the modern building materials, the indigenous or traditional building materials
have worse physical and chemical properties. If they want to be widely used in urban
buildings, they need to improve their physical and chemical properties.