Monday, May 28, 2018

Rammed earth farm house - Intro

Low foot print living

This year (2017-2018) I started construction of my farm house. Laterite stone blocks, portland cement and reinforced cement concrete (RCC) are popular building materials in this place now. All of them are playing havoc with the environment in different ways.

However, the picture was different few decades back. Traveling in the villages shows us the true picture of how the people built their homes. People were using locally available natural building materials. Buildings older than few decades are either cob or sun dried mud blocks (adobe bricks) with thatched roof or Mangalore tile (clay roofing tile) roof.

I am deeply committed to eco-friendly and sustainable life style. Therefore I wanted to build my home with locally available natural materials. I decided to make it a rammed earth structure. Load bearing rammed earth walls and clay roofing using Mangalore roofing tiles.

As famous Indian mud architect Laurie Baker says, house should go back to the earth after we stop living in them (meaning - after we stop maintaining them). Today's modern and fancy concrete buildings remain on earth for thousands of years after people stop living in them. Nature cannot easily destroy and recycle concrete. Unlike the concrete buildings, soil buildings will go back to earth if people stop maintaining them. Almost all the parts of the building will weather and go into the soil in few decades once the building is abandoned.

One important feature of soil buildings is - they use very little embodied energy and resources when compared to conventional structures (like wood, stone, or concrete). Bulk of the material used for the building (which is soil) is taken from the site or transported from nearby area if the soil in the site is not suitable for construction. Compared to this, a conventional structure fetches building material from distant quarries/forests causing large scale environmental destruction in the process and burns precious fossil fuel for transportation adding to the ecological destruction.

Thanks to my farm helpers, lot of heavy physical work has gone into the building. This is how the building looks now. It is not yet complete. I have lot of work to do. I will explain each part of the building in the coming days in a series of articles.

Rammed earth building under construction.


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