The benefits of earth architecture have been well-documented on Green Prophet, so we were very excited to discover these wonderful adobe granaries called Ksar (Ksour is plural) on our Tunisian journey. Possibly built as early as the 12th century by ancient Berbers, who had water management and agricultural skills that rival any modern farmer, these multilevel structures keep food cool without any kind of mechanical intervention!
Staying cool with the earth
In the southern Tatouine district of Tunisia, there are numerous examples of ancient adobe granaries in varying states of disrepair.
Ksar Ouled Soltane featured in these images, which has been restored using the same techniques used to build them, may be recognizable to some readers as the slave quarters of Mos Espa in Star Wars: The Phantom Menace.
More than a gimmicky tourist destination for giddy Star Wars fans, however, ksour were typically placed on top of a hill and fortified to prevent raiders from pilfering food supplies.
Surrounding one or two courtyards, ksour are up to four stories tall and are reached using narrow staircases. Navigating the dark, earth-cooled ghorfas or cellars is like crawling through a hobbit hole, but more importantly, these granaries kept precious food fresh during even the hottest summers.
Passive design Berber style
Making use of passive design techniques that are significantly more sustainable than turning on high-energy cooling technologies, the Berbers understood that the deepest cellars are also the coolest as they are shielded from sunlight.
Smaller and less popular than the Ksar featured in Star Wars, Ksar Megabla remains in its original state and can be reached by taxi or on foot (not necessarily recommended) from Tataouine.
Although their homeland has become somewhat overrun after being featured in Star Wars, the Berbers living in Southern Tunisia are friendly and kind, and have much to teach us.
Image credits: Wikipedia
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