Suma and Shuba are two sisters from Bangalore with secret alter egos. They are setting up an organic farm near the small village of Seegehalli, in the outer reaches of the city. The quaint farm is a 400 m long strip of land jeweled with a row of coconut trees on either side. They dream of eventually retiring here to a quieter and more natural lifestyle. We have started to visualize the basic requirement for life on the farm. Nicknamed ‘Cute’ and ‘Care’ by our interns, the two cottages would be the first step in realising Suma and Shubha’s dream. The ‘Cute’ cottage is to accommodate the two on their weekend visits and enable them to spend more time on the farm, while the ‘Care’ cottage is to house a small family who would be present to take care of the farm at all times. It seems to us that this is the perfect place for a small adobe home, as we have wonderful soil as well as a local skill set to produce Adobes. Follow this thread to see how these designs evolve as we walk Suma and Shubha, gradually towards their dream.
Cooking was yet to happen.
Ingredients were ready.
Were just waiting for all the cooks to arrive.
It was a hungry morning.
And it was no regular food fest; for one cook to cook for all.
It was something more special;
more unique and intimate, where everyone cooks;
Here we were all cooks;
trying to get the ingredients right,
for one perfect food for everyone;
with little secret spice, for individual’s taste.
Everyone gathered at the kitchen.
The kitchen smelt different,
The smell made us more hungry; Hungry to cook
For it was no regular kitchen.
We had two master-chefs; And one master-ingredient;
We were all new to cooking; to this type of cooking;
Major ingredient was so much familiar;
Easy to play with; Easy to cook;
To get it ready, it needed crushing;
And careful watering, And then mixing,
It must feel good in your fingers
For people to appreciate what we cook;
We made a plan; We categorised the ingredients;
For making it easier to experiment;
To Aggregate, Binders, Mass,
Organic reinforcement and added flavours;
We needed two dishes, to fulfil our hunger;
One main course and one dessert;
we called it base and finishing,
For it was no regular kitchen;
We made a strategy; to get the recipe right;
we drew a grid, kept master-ingredient consistent;
Sprinkled aggregate towards the right;
Added binder down the grid.
We made experiments; we made recipes;
Added colours and natural flavours
For this food was no regular food;
Like no other food, this food can breath.
The food can’t crack, nor can it break,
nor can it chip off, and has load to take;
We tested its strength, hanging a bottle or two
For it was no regular food.
We made the mix, we got the food
for each one, their own recipe;
We cared its cracks and loved it a lot,
For it was a food for hunger and not to eat;
It was no regular kitchen,
And we called it the Earth kitchen;
It was no regular food,
We call it Natural plaster;
by Santosh Prabhu,
Team Made In Earth
From a series of workshops on natural plaster held at Bangalore in July 2015
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.
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
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.
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.
Cuckoo Forest School,
GPS (exact location) : 12.279661, 78.642571
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.
Please fill this online form : http://tinyurl.com/njngya2
Any doubt? call Senthil 0 99 024 10 113
or Sivaraj 09965689020
Made In Earth Collective
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 | firstname.lastname@example.org , +91 888 413 58 26 (jeremie)
3000 Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks
1 goal: Building the 11th century Castle Kiosk in Earth!
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Take a tour
The first floor is dedicated to the restaurant with a big hall, a bar counter and the kitchen.
The second floor is used by the restaurant during the week but is converted in a cultural hall in the weekend!
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.
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.
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!
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 :
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.
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.
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.
5. Linseed oil is then applied 4 to 5 times to give rigidity to the floor surface and to make it water proof.
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!
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.
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.