At first glance, Dorte Mandrup’s design for the Wadden Sea Center seems to mimic the landscape. Its low height, its horizontal lines and, above all, its materiality make it a modern building in perfect harmony with the local nature. But its connection also encompasses the built heritage of the region, more specifically because of its covering with straw, harvested and dried close to the land. This is an extremely traditional and historic building technique, but which is rarely attributed to contemporary buildings. In this article we will rescue some of the history of this natural material, its constructive characteristics and some examples of use.

Researching the history of the use of thatched roofing is quite challenging. As it is a natural and biodegradable material, there are very few traces of its use in old constructions, unlike stone structures or even rudimentary cements, for example. However, researchers point out that the thatched structures date from the time when humans stopped being nomads and dedicated themselves to agriculture. There are indications of their use in the Aztec empires and in the first buildings of what we now call Europe, as well as research on its use in Europe, the UK and Mexico, among many others.

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