Made in EARTH

ಮೇಡ್ ಇನ್ ಅರ್ಥ್ | sustainable architecture & building practices

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Together with Cuckoo Movement for children and Varun Thautam

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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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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 :
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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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“There was an incredible will from the group of architects, and the entire process was very democratic.”
Late nights of design and discussion, lots of cutting, sticking, crunching, debating and starting over again. The entire design process lasted a week begining with a competition between the architects to present a proposal for the cabin. 

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The design proposals were then presented to a jury comprising of representatives from the city municipality, artists and sculptors, architects who have worked in the city, and the people living in the shelter homes. Based on the Jury’s choices, the group decided together on a project.

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The decision process within our group, enriched by the inputs given by the jury was a good example of true collaborative decision taking. Everybody tried to put his / her ego aside to decide which project would serve best the place, the people and the context, build-able in 2 weeks and challenging!

“It is all of us who will live here and construct, we will choose a final project that motivates us to build.”

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Jeremie and Felicia’s project was chosen. “I have never seen an earth building like that one before! It will attract attention of the public towards this abandoned site.”

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The selected project description:
A Rabbit at the TRI postal of Avignon
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The project is a call for attention towards the street; the volume unfolds beyond the old industrial courtyard, by raising its head beyond the fence. Wooden structure filled with earth and straw, the unique form attracts curiosity, it is a transition between the city and the different actors of this big and vivid rehabilitation project. Compact, to minimize its contact with the ground and its consumption of energy, it’s two levels are interconnected through an amphitheater creating a generously spacious interior that allows for multiple uses: a smaller and lighter office area of a more private character at the upper level, and a gathering area for meetings at the lower level, unfolding itself with large openings towards the courtyard of the TRI Postal.
“The rabbit will not only have a life in cardboard and drawings but will actually have a wooden skeleton with an earth and straw filling!

All the buzz at the TRI Postal immediately caught the attention of the local newspapers!

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What happened next? Coming soon.
What is this project all about? Read here.
Visit Touraterre website here
Photo credits : Lorraine Bonduelle

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“It is a different energy to have a challenge and to sweat towards it all together.”

In the month of September 2014, we worked on an exciting project in the South of France, together with 10 architects from across Europe and the association Touraterre.

(Friends from Touraterre started their association with a journey: a travel from Austria to Auroville, India. 12, 000 Km by train and bus, through Turkey, Iran, India, China, Kazakhstan, Russia, Ukraine and Poland.  Their goal was to visit, draw, discover and document construction projects along the road. They also visited institutions where ecological building techniques are being discussed, used and taught. Through Touraterre, they now promote the use of raw earth construction for contemporary architecture. Learn more about their adventures on their website here)

Together with a local organization “H.A.S” that supports homeless people in the main cities of France, their current project is to rehabilitate the TRI, Mail Sorting Centre of the French Postal Services in the city of Avignon. It is a huge industrial building from the 1900s located in the centre of the city, adjacent to the main train station. It has been abandoned for the last 15 years. The rehabilitation project is to convert it into an active social and cultural centre for Avignon, along with renowned French architect, Patrick Bouchain.

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[Corridors of the Sorting Centre]

To kick-start the transformation process, Touraterre and H.A.S this year, invited architects to design and build a ‘cabane de chantier‘, a custom designed temporary cabin on site to enable the organization of meetings, gatherings, etc. Architects and students from across Europe joined the team to live together, cook together, eat together, design together and build together, all within a period of one month! At the end of the month, the city of Avignon was invited for a grand inauguration of the new structure and presentation of the overall vision for the site.

The cabin was to be designed to occupy 20 square metres within the compound walls of the sorting centre. Building techniques with raw earth, straw and recycled wood were to be used.

Here are some sketches of the site. An old caravan had found its final resting place inside the compound. Shipping containers, remodeled as temporary shelters were put up inside to house the homeless people; a factor important during both design and construction.
“We are in their home”

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“What we are interested in is not only what earth architecture can be, but what our process is and what it brings to the people.” Here are some images of Life at the TRI during the first week.

04-IMG_4971[Working on the design in the main building of the sorting centre]

06-IMG_4986[Lunches and dinners together in the courtyard]

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[Open kitchens]

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[Straw from a farm nearby, ready to be used for construction]

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What was the design process like? Know more here.

Visit Touraterre website here
Photo credits : Lorraine Bonduelle


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Plaster in Chenelet01

In the summer of 2014, the community homes at Chênelet in the North of France, received a make over. Our 10 day mission was to coordinate and train a team of 6 employees from Chênelet to restore 80 sq metres of plastered earth walls.

Hidden in the countryside of Nord-pas-de-Calais, Chênelet is an association that supports unemployed people and persons from socially difficult backgrounds to train in areas of their interest. Their training period usually lasts from 6 months to 2 years. Thanks to the work and access to basic needs, they are able to regain their dignity and their place in society. After their training period, they find employment in the regular sector and sometimes even start practices of their own.

Through this objective of employment and training, Chênelet has developed activities that create an integrated value chain in the region : organic farming, forestry, processing of the local raw materials (timber, organic fruits, vegetables) and construction of ecological social housing with the use of local building materials like timber, earth and residues from the mining industry.

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The 6 trainees we worked with this summer were interested in moving forward with their career in the building sector. They received a week-long training in earth plastering techniques at the site of the Chênelet homes.

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The walls of these houses are insulated with a mixture of lime and wooden chips which is protected with 2 layers of plaster. The first thick layer is made of linen/flax plant straw, lime, earth and sand that creates a support to receive the next layer.

The second layer is the “finishing”, that protects the wall from rain and shocks. After 15 years, it is this layer that required a “face lifting”.

The tough weather conditions in this region of the North made it necessary for us to use a considerable amount of lime in the plaster.  We used a mix of NHL 3.5 lime, earth and fine river sand, to obtain a smooth finishing layer of 5mm.

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[In July the sun was surprisingly hot in “Pas-de-Calais”, we had to work under a shade net to make sure that neither us nor the plaster dry too fast!]

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We had to redo the first layer in some patches with linen/flax plant straw mix. To ensure durability, we decided to protect all the houses with stone tiles which we placed at the bottom before putting the finishing layer.

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Plaster in Chenelet08[A nearly finished wall surface of the south facade, the beautiful waves show the movement of the hands while preparing the layer]

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Those 10 days were intense!
All the 6 participants worked with earth for the first time, they had only worked with conventional building materials before like cement and sand. We were amazed to see how quickly they caught the technique; ” It is not the same! It is much more soft!”, ” It feels more natural” , “It is a forgiving material”. Everyone felt that working with earth was much easier, pleasant and non-toxic as compared to cement plastering.
A great team spirit grew over the weeks and they were all very enthusiastic about what they had learnt, eager to share and spread this interest in the companies that they will join later!

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! The method is simple and fun, you can even do it yourself!

We will leave you with a photograph of a beautiful Chênelet home in the sun.

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Handmade with care, handmade in earth.

 

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