Adobe in a few simple, but not EASY steps!
|Build Like a Bird Natural Building||
The round adobe building. In a word: incredible. There's so much to say about the community and people I spent time with in Sabana Grande, but first a building post on round adobe and cob...mostly in photos, and a big thank you to Liz Johndrow of earthenendeavors.com for the creative vision and leadership of this project and Eva Wimmer for all the incredible photos!
Adobe in a few simple, but not EASY steps!
A photo gallery of creative cob work!
And then there was a Youth Center!
Week two of the workshop in Condega is complete! All the posts are up, and the group is working well together. We've all been getting to know each other, and everyone's been helping me with my spanish. We all get a good laugh when I mix up my words.
This week we focused on naturally constructed wall systems, and I'm going to take some space in this blog to explain what that means. The photo to the left shows you the "bones" of all many of the natural wall systems we are using to construct the eating space for the canteen we are building for the women's construction school. The first wall system we started is wattle and daub. You can see this far right in the background of the photo. The workshop participants have dubbed it the "canasta" wall, or the basket wall because bamboo is woven between vertical posts, and then the wall is covered with mud. It's a great wall for non load-bearing internal walls in the states, but since we are in a tropical environment, and the walls aren't load-bearing, we can use it wherever we want!
Notice the curvy branches used to outline the tops of each wall. This space will be partially open air, so Liz (earthenendeavors.com) had the idea to make the wall shapes fun. We cut branches directly off the trees on the property and used our artistic sides to decide what would look best. I think it turned out pretty great.
Felipe and Suleydi are standing behind the chorizo wall. We created vertical channels for horizontal sticks to slide between. Then we rolled the sticks tightly with slip-covered rice straw. This wall system is good for building quickly because on the strong internal structure. You don't have to worry about the weight of the mud and straw making the bottom of the walls bulge. We built three different spaces for the sticks to fit so that the wall could curve and create the arched effect at the entrance of the canteen.
Below you'll see photos of wattle and cob. Wattle and cob is a wall system that uses posts as its internal wall structure. Then cob, packed densely with straw is used to weave back and forth between the posts. If you are careful, and you build slowly, the finished wall ends up with a beautiful woven pattern. This makes for nice texture on the wall. It's also a perfect place for bottle work in the walls. We created a mock wall for people to practice bottle design work as well. We decide next week what bottle designs will go into the final building.
At last, but not least, the local vernacular building style of taquezal. This wall system is found in many Nicaraguan homes. It involves vertical posts and horizontal cribbing to help hold the wall material in. We used a cob mix, but people here also throw in stones, and whatever they have lying around, from bricks to shoes. This technique allows one to build a thinner "cob" wall, and it allows for faster building because the risk of the weight and wetness of the wall causing the material to press outward is lower. Below is a photo of taquezal, and a photo of what my mid-day and end of day looks like.
Enjoy, and sorry this blog was extra natural building geeky. If you have questions of comments, or are interested in learning more about any of these systems, leave a comment here!
And my work in Nicaragua begins. I just finished my first week of a three week natural building workshop I am helping lead in Condega, Nicaragua with my teacher and friend Liz Johndrow of earthenendeavors.com. What a wonderful treat it's been already. So much so, that I decided to start a blog to chronicle my journey.
Meet Silvia (see photo left). She is a woman in the workshop. She chose to come to learn about building because her family's house was washed away in a flood last year. She has two children, and she is in nursing school. She travels to the workshop every morning by bus, and she wants to build her family a new house. She's super shy and reserved, and my spanish is quite lacking, so it wasn't until today that we really spoke.
I called her over to teach her how to saw a timber. She'd never done it before, and she was visibly anxious. I showed her what to do, and she was off. I came back a bit later and noticed she was still working (it was a 4x4 green timber that we were ripping with a handsaw, if that means anything to you builders out there). I said in my limited spanish, "Tu eres muy fuerte!" You are very strong. She said to me (and I only know this thanks to my friend translating for me), "Do you really think so?" "YES!" I almost yelled. She smiled and said, "Do you really think I can learn?" "YES!" I said, as I am quite passionate about these sort of things. I told her that she just needed to keep working and practicing. That's how you learn. Well she took it literally and sawed the other three timbers for us. She left the workshop today with two blisters on her hands and a new sense of confidence and empowerment.
First off, I'm not claiming an ounce of this woman's success by writing about it here. I only share it with you so you know what good work is happening at the women's construction school here in Condega. These women can come to classes for free and be empowered, which is a tricky thing in this machismo culture. I was only there to witness the power that comes from opportunity; opportunity that many women in other countries take for granted. Thank you Silvia for reminding me that women are strong powerful creatures, and we need only to remind each other of such things as often as possible.
Thanks to Liz Johndrow and April Magill for the awesome photos!
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natural builder, traveler, teacher