Monday, January 26, 2009

Building with Earth

There's an inspiring project to build a Youth Centre at nearby Dennilton using Earth Bag Construction. Pictured here is the recently completed Administrative Office (above) and Performance Space (left).

The great advantage is that this utilizes a resource that is already on the site, and can be done entirely by hand without requiring machinery. Among the many volunteers who have helped with construction were seventy five students from the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls who visited in October 2008.

In the USA, students from Maharishi University of Management and community members from Fairfield, Iowa are planning to build a home made of earth bags for a Native American family in Pine Ridge Reservation, South Dakota. The group's aim is to give the indigenous people of North America the best that the permaculture and sustainable living world has to offer. Learn more about this project at the group's website: Nature's Compassion.

Another approach is to use compressed earth blocks. These can be made by hand as has been done at Tlholego Ecovillage near Rustenberg. Here buildings are made with compressed earth blocks in a system called The Tlholego Building System. Says founder, Paul Cohen: "we have shown that it is possible to construct a 45sqm family home for around R18 000 plus sweat equity using the TBS (Tlholego Building System)". The project was supported with a grant from the Cottonwood Foundation.

Compressed Earth Blocks can also be made using a machine which greatly speeds up the construction. One machine is manufactured in Johannesburg by Hydraform.

These are some of the building technologies we are exploring for new building at Ezemvelo.

Some good links on Earth Bag Construction:

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