I have a sapient alien species who weigh on average 4 tonnes and are on average 20 foot tall when standing completely upright. They resemble six-limbed giant sloths; they have an upper pair of arms used for fighting and strength-requiring activities, and a smaller, more dexterous pair of arms for delicate tasks.

The aliens are mostly herbivorous, and evolved from a similar niche as elephants and giant ground sloths. They tend to live in lightly wooded grassland environment like savannahs and steppes.

I would want to know if my aliens would find it necessary to create buildings for shelter and storage, and if so how the buildings would look like and what building material they would use.

  • $\begingroup$ This is more of an opinion question - you could justify anything with what you’ve said. Shelter is usually a way to offer protection from the elements (or possibly predators). If they need to build structures to achieve this, then they would do so; if there are existing structures they could use, like a cave, then they could use that too. $\endgroup$
    – Callisto
    Jan 17, 2022 at 0:23
  • $\begingroup$ But what would the hypothetical buildings be made of and constructed to allow 20 foot tall giants to dwell comfortably inside? $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2022 at 0:26
  • $\begingroup$ Whatever the alien world equivalent is of the things humans use to store objects 20 feet tall, probably generally scaled up. $\endgroup$ Jan 17, 2022 at 18:30

3 Answers 3


Sloth tunnels!


sloth tunnel

While you may have heard of underground cities built by humans, what about huge tunnels dug by giant prehistoric sloths? Though it may sound outlandish, it's actually what one finds across southern Brazil. Known as paleoburrows, these enormous tunnels can measure up to 2,000 feet long and over six feet tall

Your slothy sentients dig. They use their great strength and claws to excavate tunnels through suitable substrate just as giant sloths did in South America. Usually these are just tunnels but if one should intercept a natural cavern they are not averse to using it.

The tunnels are warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The network is extensive and some tunnels are very, very old. The sloth people have been at this a long time.



My first thought was cavernous abodes, but that's been covered, and more difficult on a level savannah or grassland, and more prone to flooding than in a mountain.

I do think they'd like shelter, even elephants get attacked by predators and can be killed and eaten by them. Particularly young elephants, don't forget about your infants and kiddos.

So I'll go with our own traditional housing; wood, stone masonry, bricks, etc.

The building materials do not have to be proportional, we build 2 story houses with stand-up attics, about 26 feet tall, using 2x4s and 4x4s. They stand up to most winds without a problem. I don't think it is a stretch to say that 6x6 timbers making a 30' house with 25' ceilings could be a tank against extreme weather of all sorts.

In more primitive circumstances, that could be log cabins built with tree trunks, and one of the simplest tools of early ages was an adze to flatten the trunks on both sides for stacking. Likewise, you can peg them together, and like early tribes, fill the gaps with mud, which can be supplemented periodically if rains wash some of it away.

If you are concerned about finding trees of width, primitive tribes in the past have built shelters from bundles of sticks, or even tightly bound dry straw, again packed with mud to glue them together. There is also the ancient practice of fired mud bricks, I would not discount that, the kilns are just found stones stacked and mudded together.

I don't consider your height requirement troublesome in the least for any of these strategies, just proportional sizing will take care of that. For example your giants would use fired bricks that fit in their hands. At over 3 times our size, perhaps over 3 times the size of our bricks in each dimension. Ours are approx 3.5 x 3.5 x 7.5 inches, so round up to 12 x 12 x 24 inches for your giants. Then it takes about the same number of bricks to build their shelter as it does ours.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Yeah, if ancient humans built the great pyramids, giant sloth people can build comfortably sized homes. $\endgroup$
    – user458
    Jan 17, 2022 at 17:34

They could carve giant burrows into the sides of large hills or mountains if you wanted a more naturalistic dwelling. Other than that, maybe tree trunks to construct their dwellings, sort of like a big log cabin. Perhaps that is the reason the terrain is lightly wooded, maybe it once was more heavily wooded, but is now primarily grassland due to deforestation. Another route would be massive stones.


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