A rondavel is a traditional African-style house [cite book | author = Allen G. Noble | title = Traditional Buildings: A Global Survey of Structural Forms and Cultural | publisher = I.B.Tauris | year = 2007 | pages = 160 ] .

They are usually round in shape and is traditionally made with materials that can be locally obtained in raw form [cite book | author = Spyer, Patricia; Tilley, Christopher Y.; Keane, Webb; Susanne Kuechler-Fogden; Mike Rowlands | title = Handbook of Material Culture | publisher = Sage Publications Ltd | location = London | year = 2006 | pages = 407-408 | isbn = 1-4129-0039-5 | oclc = | doi = ] . The rondavel's walls are often constructed from stones. The mortar may consist of sand, soil, or some combinations of these mixed with dung. The floor is finished with a processed dung mixture to make it smooth. The roof braces of a rondavel are made out of tree limbs, which have been harvested and cut to length. The roof itself is made out of thatch that is sewn to the wooden braces with rope made out of grass. The process of completing the thatch can take one weekend or up to a year with a skilled artisan, as it must be sewn in one section at a time, starting from the bottom working towards the top. As each section is sewn, it may be weathered and aged in so as to form a complete weatherproof seal.

Rondavels can be found in the countries of Southern Africa [cite book | author = Eric Rosenthal | title = Encyclopaedia of Southern Africa | publisher = F. Warne. Original from the University of Michigan | location = South Africa | year = 1961 | pages = 35 | isbn = 1845113055 ] , including: South Africa, Lesotho (where the hut is also known as a mokhoro), Swaziland, Botswana, and others. Small variations exist in different areas in the height of walls and pitch of roofs as well as how the rondavels are finished. Some people elaborately carve, paint, or decorate the outside wall that has been finished off with dung. In other places, people leave their rondavels undecorated.

In recent times, with the availability of modern construction materials, the appearance and construction of rondavels have changed. They may have concrete foundations, be built with cement blocks or brick, mortared with cement, and/or roofed with corrugated tin. While the traditional rondavel did not have running water, electricity, and/or other modern amenities, many are now equipped with, or have been adapted to accommodate these.

Nowadays, if traditional black people build a rondavel they use traditional methods. However, Black people who have migrated to the cities never build it.The rondavel has been adopted by white pioneers in Southern Africa (most likely in the 18th century) and adapted to western building materials and building methods. Today complete homes for White people built in the rondavel architecture is uncommon, but rondavels are fairly popular as outbuildings on commercial farms (eg. a toolshed or a milk room). Rondavels are quite common as holiday cottages. They are sometimes "africanised" to appeal to overseas tourists. Apart from pre-fabricated rondavels, roofing material is always thatch, because it is difficult to make a neat conical roof out of other materials.

From a structural engineering point of view the roof of a rondavel is quite interresting.No internal struts are required. The principals (wooden poles running radially out from the apex of the roof to the top of the rondavel's wall) are fully supported by the circular purlins: Firstly, the principals do not sag in the middle, because sagging only puts the purlins near the middle of the principals under compression. Secondly, the principals do not splay at the bottom (push the top of the walls over to the outside) because splaying only puts the purlins near the bottom of the principals under tension. Thus it is possible to build a large rondavel without internal bracing for the roof. Traditional black african rondavels are quite small because long, straight poles are hard to find from indiginous trees on the African savannah.


External links

* [ Rondavel at Addo, ZA] .
* [ Rondavel (African dwelling) -- Britannica Online Encyclopedia]


Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • rondavel — UK [rɒnˈdɑːv(ə)l] / US [rɑnˈdɑv(ə)l] noun [countable] Word forms rondavel : singular rondavel plural rondavels South African a circular building, usually with a pointed dry grass roof …   English dictionary

  • rondavel — noun /ɹɒnˈdɑːv(ə)l/ A traditional circular house, typically with a conical roof. The buildings consisted of two iingxande (or rectangular houses) and seven stately rondavels (superior huts), all washed in white lime, dazzling even in the light of …   Wiktionary

  • rondavel — n. (in South Africa) circular hut or other dwelling (cabin, cottage) covered with a conical thatched roof …   English contemporary dictionary

  • rondavel — [rɒn dα:v(ə)l] noun S. African a traditional circular African dwelling with a conical thatched roof. Origin from Afrik. rondawel …   English new terms dictionary

  • rondavel — ron·da·vel …   English syllables

  • rondavel — /ˈrɒndəvɛl/ (say ronduhvel) noun a circular one roomed building or dwelling, usually having a thatched roof, common in southern Africa. {Afrikaans rondawel; origin obscure} …   Australian English dictionary

  • rondavel — n. S.Afr. 1 a round tribal hut usu. with a thatched conical roof. 2 a similar building, esp. as a holiday cottage, or as an outbuilding on a farm etc. Etymology: Afrik. rondawel …   Useful english dictionary

  • Vernacular architecture — is a term used to categorize methods of construction which use locally available resources and traditions to address local needs and circumstances. Vernacular architecture tends to evolve over time to reflect the environmental, cultural and… …   Wikipedia

  • Basutoland — Muso oa Lesotho (Sesotho) Kingdom of Lesotho (Englisch) Königreich Lesotho …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • Königreich Lesotho — Muso oa Lesotho (Sesotho) Kingdom of Lesotho (Englisch) Königreich Lesotho …   Deutsch Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”

We are using cookies for the best presentation of our site. Continuing to use this site, you agree with this.