This is one of a series of questions centered around how an isolated group of people would survive. Each question focuses on a single aspect of survival. Details about the peoples' situation are below:

In a novel I am developing, an undefined number of people is living on a peninsula. The isthmus connecting the peninsula to the mainland is very narrow, and spanned by a wall, which prevents the people from leaving (there are deterrents preventing them from climbing the wall or otherwise circumventing it). They also cannot swim around the wall. This also means that no land-based animals can cross onto the peninsual from the mainland. The inhabitants have to live with what they have. For the sake of details, assume the peninusla is roughly the size, shape, and location of Mahia Peninsula.

This question deals with what kind of houses the people would need to build. I'm not sure what type of house would be best for the situation they are in. Some details about the materials they have available and the climate they have to do deal with:

  • There is a large mountain range directly behind the wall. It is my understanding that this will turn back water vapor from the sea and dump it on the peninsula, similar to how the monsoon rains work. So the people will have to deal with a lot of rain, and probably a good storm from time to time. The climate likely will not be dry at all.
  • The people have access to plenty of trees and branches.
  • The people have access to sea creatures such as whales (and their bones), as they will wash up on the isthmus.
  • The people do not have access to large game animals with large pelts, but they do have access to seals, and can use seal skin for shelter.
  • The people have access to stone, as there are rocky hills nearby.
  • The people do not have access to metal, including metal tools. The closest they can get to mining is probably chiseling things out of rock.

Given this situation, what kind of houses should these people build, and what materials would they need to do so? The world isn't set in stone yet, so I'm open to some minor changes in the available materials or climate if necessary.

  • $\begingroup$ Are they just dropped there recently or it's a stable, developed "society"? $\endgroup$
    – Mołot
    Nov 28, 2016 at 8:39
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @Mołot They've been there as long as they can remember. Several generations, at least. $\endgroup$ Nov 28, 2016 at 16:18

1 Answer 1


Assuming that there exists a prevailing wind direction, the mountain range will have very different climates depending on which side of the range you're on. The windward side will be extremely wet, while the leeward side very dry. The climate of Oregon and Washington states are illustrative, with the Cascade Range providing the relief. The western portions of the state are notoriously wet, while the eastern portions can be nearly desert.

A useful model of what can be used for building would be Britain, a notoriously wet area. A traditional technique is wattle and daub for walls and thatch for roofs. Once the mixture (daub) dries it can be fairly resistant to splashing during rainfall, especially if whitewashed.


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