2015 An Introduction to Natural plasters, 3. HANDS ON WORKSHOPS, Bangalore, BLOG, Earth Plaster, Lime Plaster, Natural Plaster, Tadelakt

The Earth Kitchen

Hungry morning.
Cooking was yet to happen.
Ingredients were ready.
Were just waiting for all the cooks to arrive.

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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;

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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.

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Everyone gathered at the kitchen.
The kitchen smelt different,
The smell made us more hungry; Hungry to cook
For it was no regular kitchen.

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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;

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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;

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We made a plan; We categorised the ingredients;
For making it easier to experiment;
To Aggregate, Binders, Mass,
Organic reinforcement and added flavours;

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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;

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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;

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It was no regular kitchen,
And we called it the Earth kitchen;
It was no regular food,
We call it Natural plaster;

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by Santosh Prabhu,
Team Made In Earth
From a series of workshops on natural plaster held at Bangalore in July 2015

 

2015 Cuckoo Forest School, 3. HANDS ON WORKSHOPS, 5. PLACES, Adobe, Arches Vaults Domes, BLOG, Javadhu Hills, Tamil Nadu 6 comments on Stars in mud mortar

Stars in mud mortar

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

 

2015 An Introduction to Natural plasters, 3. HANDS ON WORKSHOPS, Bangalore, BLOG, Earth Plaster, India, Lime Plaster, Tadelakt 1 comment on Tadelakt and more, a natural plasters workshop, July 2015

Tadelakt and more, a natural plasters workshop, July 2015


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

1. PROJECTS, 2014 Ecological Bus-stop Prototype, BLOG, Compressed earth bricks (CEB - CSEB), France, Leubringhen

2014 Ecological Bus-stop Prototype

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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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2014 Baraka Organic Restaurant, BLOG, Earth Plaster, Lime Plaster, Roubaix, France

Baraka – The common goods factory

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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!

2014 Restoration of a countryside home, France, Adobe, BLOG, Earth Floors, Earth Plaster, Lime Plaster, Natural Plaster, Tadelakt, Toulouse, France

Making an earthen floor

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.

2015 Cow shelter at Belavala, Belagola, South India, BLOG, Compressed earth bricks (CEB - CSEB)

First step First press

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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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2014 Rise of the Rabbit, Tri Postal, France, 3. HANDS ON WORKSHOPS, Avignon, France, BLOG, Earth and Straw

Raw Earth Building Workshop in France – III The Rise of the Rabbit

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

2014 Rise of the Rabbit, Tri Postal, France, 3. HANDS ON WORKSHOPS, Avignon, France, BLOG, Earth and Straw 2 comments on Raw Earth Building Workshop in France – II Design Process and Jury

Raw Earth Building Workshop in France – II Design Process and Jury

“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