Made in EARTH

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Then came Kali, he gave me a hundred kisses on my cheek, I hugged him and did not let him go. He was excited. He was one of those to whom the school belonged.
I had been waiting on the rope bed for one of my friends to ask for a brick or some mortar. We were constructing a Nubian vault, over the toilets. The arch, to be extruded, was beautiful. We were constructing portions of the much awaited Cuckoo Forest school.
Cuckoo being an NGO, needed help to make this dream come true. And help came, it came from far and wide, from as far as Nagaland and Delhi. The soon to be ‘never forget me’ friends came together to put up the dome form.
We had just started to intern with Jeremie, who had been incessantly guiding the architecture/ construction, for the whole week. Work had started on the 5th of July 2015, under Varun Thautam, another earth conscious architect.
I turned to see into the kitchen, Azhageshwari akka, our superstar, whose kitchen churned out the most amazing meals right from the morning herbal tea, to the fibre rich breakfasts, and full fledged lunches and dinners, complete with fried appalams.
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Some volunteers, I had seen in the morning, were collecting firewood for cooking. The bamboo in the forest, rustled as they had moved past me, not knowing my incognito-doing, closeby.
The place had so much life, so much aura. The energies were quite literally flowing from every direction. The people and their stories made me feel minuscule. People were there not only to give a hand at the construction, I understood.
They were of varied professions: Architects, Engineers, IT professionals, farmers, psychologists, journalists, photographers, theatre artists, entrepreneurs, writers, even aspiring cricketers. No two artists had the same story to tell. They all seemed to be exuberantly glowing in their own ways. No two volunteers had the same reason to come.
But all of them had one thing in common. They cared. They valued something. They valued earth.
Earth construction was perhaps the most apt technique. Five brick makers had made 4000 bricks a day, before I had reached the site. Eight volunteers churned out eight wheel barrows of clay mortar, each day, as they got themselves muddy pedicures. The work went on till lunch, and continued after tea. The happy ice-cream man had been having the time of his life, as we all craved, for the frosty sugar, under the flame thrower in the sky.
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That night was the last night, under the serial lights of the deep sky. Moon rise, star song, what beauty, I felt in the reflection of my view. The void seem to grow, more and more, as talks of parting, seem to hang in the air. Poetry and theatre in the dead dark forest came alive with the vermilion of flames and echoes from within. The passion seemed to consume everyone from the inside out. And it ended, with deep question.
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Indeed, the cuckoo volunteers served a lot of revered love to us. It is this love that has drenched children like Kali in. I felt so small in the company of the mighty mountains, the tall trees, most insignificant when I was shown their huge hearts and ever open minds. I feel I took so much more from cuckoo than I could have ever given.
I paid reverence to the land by sprinkling seeds and spreading life.I felt something very new, something that I can never describe when I removed my sandals that day. The Earth was breathing heavily under me.
By Santosh Shyamsunder, Team Made In Earth
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Photographs by Kaveer Rai
The Cuckoo Forest School brought together 40 volunteers from all over INDIA to build a handmade adobe school at the foothills of Javadhu, Puliyanur village in 10 days. Read more about the project here
Read an article about Cuckoo Forest School in the New Indian Express here

 

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Inthenews
Together with Cuckoo Movement for children and Varun Thautam

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“The Cuckoo Movement for Children” is an informal group of friends and volunteers who has been working with rural children of Tamil Nadu since 2004. They have established libraries and nurseries in villages across the state, organizing plenty of creative activities. They also partner with local schools to introduce the kids to traditional folk arts, music, martial arts, theatre, organic farming, engaging them in exciting discussions on socio-political and environmental issues, organizing movie projections, etc.

Over the years, the dream of the Cuckoo movement members to establish an alternative school dedicated to rural children has grown bigger and bigger. And it is about to come true!

They purchased collectively seven acres of land at the foothills of the Jawadhu Hills, Vellore District, Tamil Nadu. A beautiful place close to nature, at the border of the forest where lesser privileged children will be able to get access to free education.

 

They need your help to build the first structure on the site! Entirely made of earth, with a minimal use of cement and chemicals, the building will serve as a camp site to train children. It will also be a resource centre for Organic farming, alternative education, alternative medicine and alternative politics.

The workshop

From the 6th to the 15th of July 2015

10 days of fun, learnings and hard work to build the first building of the Cuckoo Forest School!

What will you learn?

The 2 stories building is entirely made of adobes (raw earth bricks) and earth mortar. You will discover all the steps to build an earthen structure made of arches and domes :

  • Identification of soil
  • Brick masonry
  • Construction of arches
  • Making of domes with the free spanning technique (no centering / formwork)
  • Lime based plaster for water proofing

Program

Dates : from the 6th to the 15th of July 2015

The workshop will start on the 6th of July at 10am.
The exact workshop timing will be defined collectively on the first day.
Apart from the construction activities there will be discussions, cultural events and movies in the evenings.

 

Accommodation and food

Very basic accommodation will be provided since there is no infrastructure on the site yet.
In a few words : You will be very close to nature surrounded by a mind blowing landscape 🙂
Tents and temporary toilets will be installed on the site and all 3 meals will be provided to the participants.

Equipment

Be ready to get dirty!
Carry a good hat and a water bottle that you can fill on site.
You can also bring bed-sheets for the night / blankets.

 

Venue

Cuckoo Forest School,
Puliyanur Village,
Singarapettai
Tamil Nadu

GPS (exact location) : 12.279661, 78.642571

https://goo.gl/maps/t0zlw

 

Fees

The workshop is free: kids get a school, you get to learn!
However, the budget of the cuckoo movement being extremely limited, we ask you to consider giving a small contribution for the food and if you feel like, for the rest of the project.

All accounts will be transparently shared.

Example of contribution : 150 Rs / day

You will find the payment detail in the registration form.

Registration

Please fill this online form :  http://tinyurl.com/njngya2

Any doubt? call Senthil  0 99 024 10 113
or Sivaraj 09965689020

 

Organizers

Cuckoo Movement for children :
https://www.facebook.com/cuckoochildren
http://cuckoochildren.blogspot.in/

Varun Thautam
www.varunthautam.com

Made In Earth Collective
www.madeinearth.in

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A plaster that breathes, regulates temperature and humidity inside the building, absorbs both noise and odors and that ages beautifully with time. Add to that the infinite possibilities in aesthetics; Coloured or Natural, smooth or grainy, regular or patterned, contemporary or rustic; earth plaster is irresistible!

Additionally, unlike paints and other chemical coatings they do not emit any volatile components which could be harmful to our health and being locally available, they reduce the environmental impact of your construction.

Anybody can create and apply its own natural plaster with the soil of its place, a dose of creativity, a trowel of motivation and a bit of experience!
Come and learn with us!

The venue | The workshop will take place at the construction site of a contemporary earth house, designed by Ar. Varun Thautam in north Bangalore. An opportunity for you to discover other earth construction techniques such as Adobes, and vault masonry with the free spanning technique.
Site No.23, Green Garden
Chokkanahalli, Yelahanka Hobli
Bangalore North Taluk
GPS coordinates : 13.08672 , 77.62425

Equipment | Be ready to get dirty! Carry a good hat and drinking water

Registration and fees | 600 Rs including lunch and tea, Registration before  thursday 3rd of July.
>> Access the online registration form

Contact | madeinearthindia@gmail.com , +91 888 413 58 26 (jeremie)

Organisers | Varun Thautam www.varunthautam.com & Made In Earth Collective www.madeinearth.in

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9 weeks
15 people
3000 Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks
1 goal: Building the 11th century Castle Kiosk in Earth!

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The Journey

In the summer months of 2014, the team at Made In Earth had an incredible opportunity to explore earth architecture in the wonderful context of Montemoro in Portugal. One and a half hours East from Lisbon is little artistic village of Montemor-o-Novo. Mix dramatic weather conditions with unexpected news from the archeologial council, add a little earth and mix it well, and you will get a feeling of the athmosphere in which the workshop started.

Take a Portuguese cultural center for the Arts, Crafts and Social research located in a convent. Add a city council favorable to artists, a traditional brick factory focused on reviving old building crafts, an engaged community in the village of Montemoro, more than 1000 years of history inside the castle’s walls, and young architects from the entire world eager to research, design and build earth architecture; and you will have the main ingredients in the making of the Castle Kiosk in Montemor-o-Novo, Portugal. Together with Oficinas do Convento and Touraterre, intense weeks of architectural conception led to the design and building of an information kiosk for the community and its visitors inside the Castle’s old walls.

 
Design and build – together!

An idea we love at Made In Earth is the coming together of people from various fields, to create earth architecture. See other projects – (Cuckoo Forest School, Tamil Nadu and The Rabbit, France). The workshop at Portugal was a perfect demonstration of the energies and creativity involved in working together with people from diverse backgrounds, each having a special place in their life and work, for building with earth.

11th century stories

Views of the site

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From the entrance, just right of the site where we will build: the ruins of the medieval village.
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 Arches, towers, domes at sunset
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 The building site. After its excavations by the archeological council.

Clay and Cardboard

The design for the castle kiosk was explored completely through models.
Our main material: Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocs (CSEB).
Our main inspiration: the surroundingsa

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Hours of exploration, debates and discussions later, the team and the Municipality unanimously chose ‘The Crumbling Land’.
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Playing with its surroundings, this project was a re-interpretation of the labyrinthine aspect of its surroundings by spreading above the limits of the defined construction site, and offering to the visitors a place to enjoy playfully the walls and benches that mirror the ruins on the other side of the road. A square building, with all its sides open allows the visitors to gather under two crossing arches meeting in a dome stile structure. This form allows the builders to experiment with vaults and domes at the same time, while mirroring their use all around the site.

The multiple terraces allow for the use of different ceramic elements that Telheiro offers to the workshop, (tiles, floorings and so on). This is a landscape project that offers a playful ground for the people of Montemor-o-Novo.
Earth to blocks
Work starts on site

Production of Compressed Stabilised Earth blocks at Telheiro

Blocks to Arches
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From sunrise to sunset
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It is just a bench!
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The flooring
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Lime Plastering to protect our arches
The finished Kiosk!
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abri2

We developed a prototype of a bus-stop for the village of Leubringhen, to be used by students and travelers in the region. “An opportunity to demonstrate ecological materials in a public space” was the brief given to us. We built it with poplar wood and Compressed stabilized earth blocks (CSEB) with a green roof. The design was conceived with a solar panel that lights up the inside as the sun is very rare in this region during winter.  The bus-stop had to protect against the stong winds in the pas-de-calais region.

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The huge interior wall gave plenty of room for creative freedom. We drew a map of the region  highlighting all the local treasures, using non-toxic paints and plenty of enthusiasm from the village children.

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12-InstagramPhotos : Shruthi Ramakrishna and Pierre Wolf

The Baraka Co-operative could be considered as the ideal recipe for sustainable architecture and development :

Take a big dose of social entrepreneurship
Gather a handful of people willing to put their money together in a meaningful project
Add a jar of social involvement with unemployed people of the area
Mix the whole thing with a strong ecological approach
Add a big spoon of dream and a teaspoon of madness

You will get :

An organic restaurant that trains and provides work to 5 previously unemployed people from the area and is No 1 in tripadvisor for the city of Roubaix, France (as of 2014-15)

A (nearly) zero energy building entirely made of wood, straw, earth and recycled paper

100 volunteers from the area who were trained in ecological building techniques during the construction

A space to organize cultural events open for all

Our team has been lucky to be involved in the construction of Baraka from the beginning. It has been an incredible human adventure which continues to inspire us as a strong model of sustainable architecture and social enterprise.

How was it built ?

90 % of the materials used in the building are natural and sourced from within 100 km radius. The main structure of the building is made of local wood. Straw and recycled paper have been used for the insulation.

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Who built it?!

Matthieu Marty, based in Lille (France) is the principle architect of the project. He has a lot of experience in wooden construction with low energy consumption.

The main structure and fine carpentry work was done by the construction team of SPL a company in north of France working with long term unemployed person and promoting the construction of ecological social housing.

P1050792The SPL team mounting the superstructure

The rest of the construction was done in a very unique way :  100 people from various backgrounds were trained on ecological construction techniques while actually building!
Students, architects, engineers, cooks, disabled workers, unemployed people, artists… an incredible diversity of people gathered to learn and build.

We were in charge of coordinating these workshops and were amazed by the dynamics that took place in all the groups : a strong tolerance and mutual aid, a feeling of ownership towards the building, a strong dedication to the work… 50% of the participants insisted on joining a second week of workshop after participating to one.

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Training on straw bale insulation and air tightness

An adventure till.. after the end

The building was finished in February 2012 and the restaurant inaugurated in March 2012. The Baraka team called us recently to do some earth plaster in the interiors. We spent a good time with them, giving a new look to all the plastered walls. We used some pigments for a grey finish in the meeting room, and natural colour in the restaurant.

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Take a tour

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Photo : Pierre Wolf

The first floor is dedicated to the restaurant with a big hall, a bar counter and the kitchen.

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Photos : Pierre Wolf

The second floor is used by the restaurant during the week but is converted in a cultural hall in the weekend!

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A big meeting hall is available for rent on the last floor, it is also used for all sorts of cultural activities and hosts a fablab once in a while.

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Photo : Pierre Wolf

Some of the organic vegetable used in the restaurant are grown in the adjacent terrace! It is also a great spot for an outside lunch in summer.

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Photo : Pierre Wolf

If you happen to go travel in the north of France, you should really consider a visit to Roubaix!
After your visit at the internationally famous museum ” La Piscine“, go for a lunch at Baraka and tell us about your experience!

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Most people often remember earth as a crude material; it’s plain looks that are so contrasting from the aesthetics of finished industrial products. But the irony is that the principle virtue of this material lies in its aesthetics, one that is natural, subtle and simple, adapting itself to the diversity of techniques, cultural aspirations and skills; sometimes in response to tradition, while sometimes contemporary. Along with the artisans from Inventerre, we used earth for a completely different purpose…earthen floors! Today we tell you how it was made :
1-Earth Floor

You are probably wondering : “Which layer did they stabilize? Where is the cement?”. There is no cement, no lime, no bitumen! Only earth and linseed oil!
1. First the floor was dug and leveled with a layer of 3 to 5cm of sand.

2. Next, a 10 cm of cork board was laid for insulation purpose. Cork is a very interesting material in Europe for foundations since it is water proof, resistant to humidity and dense enough to carry some weight.

Earth Floor

The building heating system is done through the floor. Pipes are fixed on top of the cork and will be “trapped” in the slab to get the best inertia. As you can see on the photo a compression seal was also laid at the point of contact between the slab and the wall to avoid cracks and movement due to the changes of temperature of the floor complex.

3. Then comes the earth concrete. There is a debate with the word “Concrete”, we like to say that concrete is just a mix of aggregate together with a bonding agent and water. Therefore earth mixed with water is a concrete. Clay particles play the role of holding the aggregate together to form an solid mass.

Several layers of 5 cm mix were applied and then rammed to reach a final slab thickness of 11cm. The mix is composed of : 3 vol of calcareous gravel + 2 vol of earth + minimum of water to reach a semi-plastic state. Each layer is rammed by feet first and then with a ramming machine.

Water is your best friend and your worst enemy when building with earth. Put little less and you won’t get any cohesion, put a little extra and you will have fissures. Even though we put a minimum amount of water, we had to wait 3 months for the entire volume to dry! It is not like cement which will react with the water, here most of the water needs to evaporate till the earth mix has found its water balance with the surrounding materials and the air.

Laying an earth floor

4. The earth mortar is the final layer. It is around 1.5 to 2cm thick and is composed of 4 volumes of calcareous sand (0/4) and 1 volume of earth. It is the layer that will be seen and needs to be “perfect”, the slightest crack is filled and fixed before the final coating.

Finishes

Earth floor laying

5. Linseed oil is then applied 4 to 5 times to give rigidity to the floor surface and to make it water proof.

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It is impressive to see that after applying the layers of oil, you can wipe the flour with a wet mop without altering the surface at all! Here is the final result!

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This is a restoration project of an old countryside house. The restored adobes, stone and cooked bricks and the wood are brought beautifully together by the earthen floor.

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You have to really want an earth floor in your house. It may be most ideal for living areas, reading rooms or bedrooms while kitchens and other wet areas could be a challenge. Remember that having an earth floor in any part of your house requires a special attention. It is sensitive to shocks and point load. The linseed oil coat has to be renewed every once in a while to make sure that the floor does not take any stains. If you would like more information about earth floors, please write to us

Who is Inventerre? coming up soon.

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Here is the old grandma we received last week. No disrespect in calling her that… she has already a few years of hard-work behind her and after pressing Earth blocks for a few houses she really required a makeover!
We just settled in south India, in a village 12 km from Mysore where we are planning on building a cow shed and staff quarters for our small organic farm. An opportunity for us to take the time to explore different construction techniques with the local materials and skills.
This Mardini Press might not be the next candidate for some high-tech award but it is robust, extremely simple and can produce up to 500 compressed earth blocks per day which is more than enough for our needs.
It could be an alternative for the COB technique which has been used locally for ages but is labor intensive and comes with more structural restrictions. We will definitely explore the possibilities of rammed earth, adobe, as well and keep you updated.
We just wanted to share with you our excitement after producing our first brick with this newcomer!
Happy New Year 2015 to everybody! Keep creating, keep sharing.

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After this first week of design and selection of a project, the entire team started working together. 3 weeks is a really short period of time to build and do the finishing of a 20square mt building! Things had to go fast and steady.

The entire structure of the building was in wood, most of which was recycled from a big exhibition that took place in the area. We setup a small workshop to prefabricate all the pieces and assemble them into big boxes in order to make the construction as quick as possible.

While some of us were still working on the plans, the rest of the team started laying the foundations. Because of restrictions due to firemen access, we had to move the entire structure a few metres inside the courtyard, not the same anymore but still visible from the road, still powerful!

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[The whole “Rabbit” lies on these 2 beams. They’d rather be straight and horizontal… Double check.]
Avignon, though it is in the south of France, often sees temperatures below zero during the winter. A good insulation is necessary and will also improve the comfort during the hot summers. Which insulating material is local, natural, pest free, resistant, inexpensive and available in abundance??? Rice Husk!! That is what we used to insulate the floor and the roof of the building

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Time to fill the wallswith straw and earth
The wooden structure of the walls needed to be filled with a material which is aesthetically appealing, insulating but with a good inertia and of course made of a natural and local material. That is when Seb got in and taught us how to prepare the straw and earth mix.

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[Step 1 : spread the straw bale in a big pile]

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[Step 2 : mix the earth with water and spray it on top of the pile ]
Here is a tip
: fix a trowel at the end of your watering can, you will get a wonderful mud fountain!

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[Step 3 : after closing the wall compartments with a wooden board, fill the mix in and start ramming…  ]

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[Step 4 :  ramming…  ]

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[Step 5 :  ramming…  ]


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[The future amphitheater  ]

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We had to leave before the roof was laid, 1 week before the opening… not much sleep and lots of learning! We had grown into a wonderful construction team together.

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[Most the doors and windows where recycled from local deconstruction site ]

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[Last details…]

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[The opening!! First concert in the rabbit … 32 people! ]

27-ob_84eb61_dsc02211[The building is now occupied all week long by an architect who is working on the over-whole rehabilitation of this industrial complex.]

22-03-DSCF0364The rabbit stands tall and proud. It is amazing what 10 people can do if they put all their energy in it!
You can follow the adventure of the “Tri Postal” on their blog : http://tripostal.org/

What is this project all about? Read here
Visit Touraterre website herePhoto credits : Lorraine Bonduelle

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