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Ethiopian Tukul

Excerpts from the Shelter, copyright 1973 by Shelter Publications, PO Box 279, Bolinas CA 94924, a synopsis of material available from a number of publications.

The tukul or sarbet of the Ethiopian high plateau is a structure which utilizes simple building techniques and excellent use of natural resources:

  1. A circle with a diameter of 9 to 20 ft. is drawn at the building site. Eucalyptus poles are placed in the ground at one yard or so intervals along the circumference. The poles should be long enough so that at least 7 or 8 feet of the pole is above the ground. Next the center pole is set. It should be tall enough to give the roof an angle of at least 50 degrees.
  2. Now the walls are filled with upright poles set close together and stuck in the ground. Rope is used to tie supports to the side of the wall. Green wood is used for ease in bending. Now the roof supports are attached 1 foot from the top of the center pole and extend about two feet past the top of the wall. This helps shed rain away from the wall. The supports can be extended even farther and used as a type of verandah.
  3. More supports are added to the roof. These again are of green wood and tied with rope. Now it is time to put on the roofing material. A straw type grass is used. It is thatched or tied. This work is done from the op down working carefully to insure a good roof. A pottery jar is added over the top of the center pole to help shield water from the center of the roof.
  4. An adobe plaster of straw and mud is put on the wall. After the plastering is finished, a door is built and installed and two small holes are put in the wall to allow sunlight to come in.