Building with Earth

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Building with clay, as with cob, adobe, or waddle and daub, is one of the most aesthetically pleasing, accessible, and durable way to build. These techniques are especially beneficial for smaller buildings and where there is plenty of accessible labor. Community participation in building with clay is always encouraged and the technique is quick to learn by most people anywhere. Engineering considerations are important to ensure strong supporting structures, foundations for the walls, and support for the roofs. Facilitators of this activity should be well practiced and knowledgeable of building techniques using earth and natural materials.

 

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To measure and design for carbon neutral ecological footprints and to apply this knowledge to design and/or build using a local resource such as clay, straw, and native woods.

Assessment: Debriefing from this experience can best be done with the whole group to let everyone see the diversity of experiences. Afterwards summarize any feature that came up during the debriefing. Focus initially on identifying the various ways people value things and other issues that come up during the exercise. Ask, what did not work as it should have? How could it have been improved? Try
to involve everyone by asking of each participant the same questions.

  • Students Ask students what they observed. How they felt during this exercise. What did they discover about the technical, aesthetic, and practical aspects of building with earth? How does this inform how they relate to the rest of the community? To the rest of the world? What was most important in what happened here today? What connections did they not make?
  • Facilitators What did you observe about this exercise? How well did participants take to it? Did they understand the directions? Did anything come up that called your attention to risks or unforeseen results? What, if anything, would you do differently?

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Flip Chart. Locally mined screened clay earth, water, fibrous materials (straw, pine needles, corn stalks, sticks, horse manure…), wood planks, tarp, mixing tools.

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  1. Divide the group into water carriers, earth haulers, mixers, and shapers.
  2. Describe the job each group does and tell them that they can rotate at any time by finding someone who wants to swap jobs with them. 3)Assuming the group has never built with earth before, the easiest way to learn is to build a small freestanding wall, a natural sculpture, or a sitting bench.
  3. Pick a spot on the site to build one or more of these and prepare the structural component by piling and securing hay bails, branches, wooden planks and whatever other structural pieces are needed.
  4. Be sure to involve participants in the design and preparation of the structure.
  5. Mixers do the mixing. Once it is ready have some carriers bring it closer to the structure being constructed.
  6. Shaper begin applying the earth mix on the structure in layers, allowing each layer to dry before the next one to avoid cracking. 8) After it dries completely (2-3 days) apply a fine coat of sifted clay with various components to observe the effect created. These can include eggs, paints, dyes, oils, lime, etc. The last coat should be very fine and almost liquid, so as to create a smooth coat.
Suggested Age (Child - Youth)

Youth

  • Head – Cognitive – Concepts 15% 15%
  • Hands – Skills 100% 100%
  • Heart – Attitudes – Behaviour 35% 35%
  • Living Together – Community 85% 85%

SDGoals

1: No Poverty

2: Zero Hunger

3: Good Health and Well-Being for people

4: Quality Education

5: Gender Equality

6: Clean Water and Sanitation

7: Affordable and Clean Energy

8: Decent Work and Economic Growth

9: Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

10: Reduced Inequalities

11: Sustainable Cities and Communities

12: Responsible Consumption and Production

13: Climate Change

14: Life Below Water

15: Life on Land

16: Peace, Justice and Strong Institutions

17: Partnerships for the Goals

Submitted by

Giovanni Ciarlo

Giovanni Ciarlo

E-learning and Academic Coordinator

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