In olden times, building a house was a celebration. The villagers came together to help each other make homes from locally sourced materials. It was a community activity with everyone supporting each other in their own capacities. There was no money or loans involved. The house was a shelter rather than a place of materialistic comforts. It was a basic structure to give protection from the sun, rain and cold.
Today buying or building a house can be a huge economical investment, nearly as much as our life savings or more. For various reasons, most people opt for a loan from the banks to meet the required expenses.
One wonders then: “Is there an alternative?”
Yes, it is feasible to make strong houses at low costs. . While we may see low cost as the primary benefit, the hidden benefit is that such construction can also be sustainable. This workshop gives you the opportunity to understand how it can be done
How does sustainable construction help in a greener future? With a growth in world population, more buildings are constructed without much thought given to the environment or sustainability. This means cutting down trees and reducing wetlands areas on one hand. Additionally, chemically induced materials are used in order to save costs in the construction. With natural resources, chemicals used in construction will be eliminated.
What makes this workshop unique?
- You get to see actual houses built from locally sourced materials.
- You experience the practicality of such houses.
- You get hands-on experience on how to prepare the mixes.
- You will make your own bricks.
- The workshop takes place in an open farmland surrounded by trees.
The most interesting part of the workshop is the mixing of ingredients in the Lime chakki, a 1 ton granite wheel, that crushes and mixes the materials into a thin paste. A circular 1 foot pit is dug into the earth and all the ingredients are put into it. The granite wheel is pulled by a tractor these days, but was pulled by oxen in the early days.
Lime Chakki, Sacred Groves, Auroville, India.
What you need to know before you jump into a project?
How is working with earth different from cement?
When you make bricks from earth and non chemicalized materials, the bricks get stronger while aging. But in modern constructions, the bricks are made, left to get strong and then used in construction.
Earth construction is based on trial and error. Testing and sampling has to be done in order to get best results. Soil in each place has its own properties and depending on that, the earth can be used for construction. Clay content, in ideal conditions, should be around 35%.
At the same time, cement isn’t used at all in sustainable construction. It is a mix of clay, stone lime, jaggery water and herbal seeds that is used as an alternative to cement. The more lime ages, the stronger it gets. Lime is also used as a waterproofing agent in external walls.
Once you get to see the process of building a sustainable house, you will be more than convinced to apply the same methods and techniques in building your own structures, and you won’t be disappointed. The steps you take today as an individual and as an architect will have a positive impact on the environment, making the world a better place. It is these conscious choices that will determine a greener future.
Constructing a Wall, Sacred Groves, Auroville, India.
Mini Hut, Sacred Groves, Auroville, India.
Come join us in our next workshop. https://www.agpworkshops.com/workshops/natural-building-basics/
Did you know hemp could also help you build a sustainable structure? Know more about uses of hemp by joining our workshop “Going Sustainable with Hemp”
Want more insight into another perspective about sustainable architecture? Read “What Is Sustainable Architecture?”
For alternative materials that are used in sustainable constructions head to “10 Sustainable Building Materials For Greener Architecture”