[GSBN] Bales for Haiti
andy at ecodesignarchitects.co.za
Tue Feb 23 01:04:11 CST 2010
My further 2 cents - from living and working in Southern Africa in a diverse
range of natural and cultural landscapes I echo Keller Lerner's take on
observing and asking lots of questions first so as to be prepared to come up
with and adapting to a whole range of appropriate solutions.. I would say
looking at recycling all the rubble in various ways could definitely be
something to incorporate.I've used building rubble for rubble trench
foundations, in timber ladder re-enforced "sand" bag walls and in rock
gabions before. I have also build a "rubble-crete" wall - a random rubble
stone wall except using stones are blocks of rubble.
Architectural history offers plenty of clues to successful approaches to
natural building. Vernacular buildings styles and materials have adapted to
their specific climatic and resource bases some over many centuries. At
times solutions can vary remarkably according to very specific local
conditions. However, many common patterns emerge. In humid climates one
often observes that buildings are typically raised off the ground to help
with air movement. The roofs are often high volume mostly hipped roofs with
big overhangs and wrap around verandah's to help shade the walls and
openings from the blazing sun. From a thermal comfort point of view, I would
say buildings that hold heat - like concrete buildings are a total disaster
in humid climates. They are hot day and night! Having travelled in the
tropics and grown up in Swaziland, which is only a semi tropical climate, I
know allot about humidity and let me tell you its all in the breeze! Cross
ventilation is key to designing a thermally comfortable house.
As far as materials go, what is a locally appropriate and relies on
renewable non fossil fuel based resources would be my question. Perhaps
bamboo - it grows extremely fast - especially in tropical zones and is an
excellent building material. In Laos people live in houses entirely
constructed of Bamboo - tiles, floors, beams roofs walls, gutters, down
pipes, furniture, cutlery etc. I saw old French colonial buildings in Luang
Prabang made of something they called "Collonberge" where they lime
plastered (area of pure limestone geology) over woven split bamboo panels
between expressed timber and / or bamboo structures. The current local
vernacular of Laos had "modernized" where it had started replacing the
timber posts with these thin pre-cast concrete frames probably only
200x200mm thin!!! The rest is the typical vernacular with local woven bamboo
screens, clay tile, bamboo tile or corrugated iron roofing. Must say the
concrete did not always look the most structurally sound as a vernacular
..but could be something to consider - as a compromise - where trees are
scarce - though would think bamboo would suffice. Things like observing moon
phase harvesting and proper curing or destarching by heat of washing to
remove nutrient content from the bamboo would be essential as one would not
want to use toxic pesticides with its construction.
In my travels to Japan, which can get extremely humid and suffers from many
typhoons and earthquakes, I witnessed 400 - 600 year old bamboo timber
wattle and daub buildings - some 4 storey high - essentially built for
timber posts on small little stone feet to stay dry with bamboo sub-framing
and split bamboo wicker work first covered with big daubs of rice straw cob
and then plastered over with layers of very fibre rich earth plasters. I saw
one of such old 3 storey structures in Kyoto sadly being demolished - All
the old bamboo was still in perfect condition as was the long rice straw in
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From: GSBN-bounces at greenbuilder.com [mailto:GSBN-bounces at greenbuilder.com]
On Behalf Of Kelly Lerner
Sent: 19 February 2010 07:19 PM
To: GSBN at greenbuilder.com
Subject: Re: [GSBN] Bales for Haiti
Just my two-cents worth from working in China. For developing a sustainable,
appropriate building approach in any new country, I think you need to employ
an investigative approach - lots of questions:
What's the climate?
Other environmental factors (earthquakes, hurricanes, etc)?
What materials are available? (resource mapping)
What skills do people already have? (resource mapping)
What are/were people living in now? traditionally? What worked and didn't
work about those housing types?
What's the family structure?
What are the economic factors?
What do people want?
etc, etc, etc
Strawbale construction may make sense or there may be some other techniques
that are better suited to Haiti (reinforced waddle and daub or reinforced
adobe?). Rural and urban locations will have different solutions.
Establishing relationships that empower people to look around them for
solutions is always a good place to begin.
I do worry about the longevity of strawbale walls in a climate with so
little drying potential and so much wetting potential (rains and hurricanes
and poverty which often equals lack of ability to maintain roofs).
All my best to you all.
Kelly Lerner, Architect
Certified Sustainable Building Advisor
One World Design Architecture 509-838-8812
Have you read Natural Remodeling for the Not-So-Green House? Available in
bookstores throughout the universe.
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