Moroccan Tiny Houses

After the beautiful country of Spain we headed down to the culturally fascinating country of Morocco. This small part of Africa is home a large coastline, parts of the Atlas mountains and touches on the nearly 3.7 million square mile Sahara desert. In these wild areas that seem to be on the very edge of existence are some interesting small, traditional homes.

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Many people (specifically the Berber people of North Africa) in the Atlas mountains live and work as farmers raising goats, sheep, olives, wheat and fruit like dates, pomegranates and oranges. Because of the heat of the desert, homes have to keep both humans and animals cool and many of the homes you see are still built the traditional way. Bricks made with mud, sand and straw (sometimes animal dung) are laid out in the sun to dry. They are then stacked on top of a stone foundation and covered with mud plaster. Many of the homes don’t have windows, but instead have intricate metal grates for safety and airflow. Ceilings are made with bamboo stalks, the trunks of olive trees and covered with rocks and more mud plaster. Doors are actually made from the doors of shipping containers and then embellished with metal filigree and colorful paint.
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morocco-atlas-village

Traditional Berber tents are located in the sand dunes of the Sahara. Unlike the Touareg nomads of West Africa, these tents stay in a location for years, even as the sandy landscape changes around them. Many small villages are built on harder rock that contains a small oasis. Wells are dug into the ground and water can be reached in about 15 feet. Tents and supplies are brought into the villages by camel or by dune buggy.

berber-camp

Berber rugs made of colorful wool yarn from both goat and sheep are used for the walls and floor while olive trunks are used as supports. Bamboo stalks are used for the roof. Tents are placed in a circle for protection from wind and sand and rugs are placed on the ground around a central fire pit.

berber-village

You can take a camel trek out into the Sahara desert with several tour groups in the Marrakech area. The drive into the desert takes about two days and gives you an idea of how tough these people have to be to survive the extreme climates of this rugged country.

camel-trek

 

Photos by Christina Nellemann

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Sacromonte Caves

Continuing down from the land of the hórreos in Asturias, the southern region of Andalucía has its own rustic shelters that—instead of sheltering corn and hay—have become homes for modern nomads. The Sacromonte neighborhood of Granada has a series of caves that were once inexpensive homes for the city’s Roma community in the late 19th century, but are now utilized by the city’s artistic dwellers. sacromonte-gypsy-cave-1200x1200 Most visitors come to Granada for the UNESCO world heritage site, the Alhambra, and the funky Albaicín neighborhood. The Sacromonte area lies just above the city along a hillside and once contained over 3,600 inhabited caves. A flood in the 1960s wiped out many of the homes and what was left is now occupied by approximately 30-50 nomad residents from all over the world. Many are just passing through, hoping to extend their travels by selling their art in the city plazas, while some of the ancient caves are occupied full time. sacromonte-cave-hallway-1200x1200 sacromonte-cave-community-1200x1200 CUEVAS-DE-SACROMONTE-EN-GRANADA Essentially, most of the people living in the caves are squatters overlooked by the local government. Their Bohemian looks and local art including jewelry, baskets, pottery and weavings can be seen in the local plazas. Traditinal flamenco music and dances can be seen in theaters and restaurants in the Albaicín. granada-spain The living conditions in the caves are basic. Most of the caves have electricity from local power lines or solar panels. Plumbing and toilets are sometimes shared between several residents. However, the caves do stay cool during Granada’s hot summers and you really can’t beat the view.

 

Photos by ExpertVagabond, Fjalonso and Christina Nellemann

 

By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]

Spanish Hórreos

Last week I made my first trip into Spain to visit friends and spend some time exploring the land of tapas, paella and mountain villages. While on a trip to the region of Asturias in the north part of the country, we made a game of calling out each hórreo we saw by the side of the road. It turns out that hundreds of these tiny historic structures, unique to the northern area of Spain and Portugal are surprisingly well preserved.

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A hórreo (pronounced almost like the black and white cookie) is a granary raised up on pillars that has been used since the 15th century for storing hay for feeding animals. Hórreos are made of either wood or stone and have ventilation slits to keep the hay dry in this rain-prone area. The pillars were topped by a large flat stone called a “muela” which prevents rodents from getting into the hay. Small doors and staircases to access hay were also built into the side of the buildings.

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horreo-Spain

Many homeowners in the Asturias region have been working to preserve and maintain the structures not only for farm materials and firewood, but to use for garages (cars are parked under the shelter), for storage and potentially for tiny houses like this hórreo for rent in Villa Bajo, Spain.

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Photos by Wikipedia, Esacademic, Airbnb and Christina Nellemann

 

 By Christina Nellemann for the [Tiny House Blog]