Earthen Architecture: A Technique of the Past Helping Us Toward a Greener Future – UNESCO and Building Green Futures are working together to build a women’s center in Palestine made out of earth, or mudbrick, an ancient tradition that’s excellent at conserving energy.
… over one third of the world’s population lives or works in buildings constructed of earth …
Building Green Futures explains the inspiration for using earth for the women’s center – troglodyte Berber houses. The Tunisian example shown here, over four centuries old and now a hotel, was the location for Luke Skywalker’s home in Star Wars.
The lesson we learn from this design solution is the leveraging of the ground’s high thermal mass to protect interiors from the outside’s thermal excursions. Furthermore, the convex shape of the crater enables the harvesting of rainwater and facilitates the digging of wells for water provision through the underground aquifer.
If you’re curious about troglodyte hotels (or underground / cave hotels), there are quite a few and not just in North Africa. See a list here, and here, and more on French caves put to various uses here.