Empowering Community

Earthbag construction utilizing the Flexible-Form Rammed Earth (FFRE) technique employs people instead of products (Fig. 1.10). The FFRE technique practices third world ingenuity, with an abundance of naturally occurring earth, coupled with a few high tech materials to result in a relatively low impact and

1.11: Typical 1,000-year-old Anasazi structure, Hovenweep National Monument.

embodied energy product. What one saves on materials supports people rather than corporations. The simplicity of the technique lends itself to owner/ builder and sweat-equity housing endeavors and disaster relief efforts. Properly designed corbelled earthbag domes excel in structural resilience in the face of the most challenging of natural disasters. Does it really make sense to replace a tornado-ravaged tract house in Kansas with another tract house? An earthbag dome provides more security than most homeowner insurance policies could offer by building a house that is resistant to fire, rot, termites, earthquakes, hurricanes, and flood conditions.

throughout the Southwestern United States (Fig 1.11). The coursed adobe walls of Casa Grande in Southern Arizona, Castillo Ruins, Pot Creek Pueblo and Forked Lightning Pueblo in New Mexico, and the Nawthis site in central Utah, although eroded with centuries of neglect, still endure the ravages of time. In the rainy climate of Wales, the thick earthen cob-walled cottages protected under their thatched reed roofs boast some 300 to 500 hundred years of continual use. If we can build one ecologically friendly house in our lifetime that is habitable for 500 years, we will have contributed towards a sustainable society.

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