In February, we were joined by students from Easterbrook Discover School in San Jose, CA and Central High School in Springfield, MA (10th year) to lay the foundation for the Learning Center using Earthbags, sometimes called Sandbags. Frederico joined our delegation to teach the students more about this ancient natural building technique.
The Basics of Earthbags:
– Earthbag building uses polypropylene rice bags or feed bags filled with soil or insulation that are stacked like masonry and tamped flat to create the walls.
– Barbed wire between courses keeps bags from slipping and adds tensile strength.
– The final plastered walls look just like adobe structures.
Earthbags have long been used for creating strong, protective barriers and for flood control. The same reasons that make them useful for these applications carry over to creating housing. Since the walls are so substantial, they can resist all kinds of severe weather and also stand up to natural calamities such as earthquakes and floods. They can be erected simply and quickly with readily available components and simple hand tools, for very little money.
Thousands of people are now building with bags to create their dream homes, home offices, shops, resorts, rootcellars, storm cellars and survival shelters. There has been a rescent surgence of earth bag construction for use in building building schools, orphanages, emergency shelters and other structures in poverty-stricken communities around the world, particularly, Haiti.
Why build with earthbags?
Economics. The cost of the building is quite small since the basic materials needed are often available locally, not particularly expensive, and can be recycled or salvaged. The bulk of the material used is the earth itself.
Sustainability. Local soil is used to fill the bags and use of recycled or salvaged materials, makes the result extremely “green.”