Bricks and cement aren’t the only material used for building a house. A much more sustainable way is earthbag construction.
S Samyukhta, an architect interested in sustainable architecture, did not want an ordinary home. When she set out to build one for herself in Valukkuparai, Tamil Nadu, she decided to do so using earthbags, and a team of civil engineers, architects and volunteers helped her to construct it.
So what are these earthbags and why would one build a house using that?
First, Samyukhta tells The Hindu, earthbag construction is not at all labour intensive. It is cheap compared to houses made of bricks and cement. It also has the unique advantage of providing insulation, through which the temperature inside is colder compared to outside by a few degrees.
The walls also gradually become stronger.
She bought the bags from the market and used mud for construction with a contemporary twist, reports The Hindu.
“I am lucky the soil in the plot was just right with the right proportion of clay and sand. Sacks are filled with the soil and beaten to remove excess moisture and make it hard,” she told the publication. Barbed wires were places in between to create friction.
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From the time they started 3.5 months ago, her team has been working from 7 am to 2 pm. “The walls are complete, and it has all been done by my team and volunteers. We did not hire any labours, except for the foundation. The flooring will be mud, and the roof will be made of Mangalore tiles. There will also be a dome at the centre, which will also be made of earthbags,” she added.
To build her house, Samyuktha reached out to online groups asking for volunteers to join her.
Many architects, farmers and civil engineers got back to her. They all stay at a farm near the construction site.
Initially, many were unsure of this kind of construction. It has its drawbacks too. For instance, one cannot raise the height of the walls beyond a point. The extension of the house could prove problematic later on if not planned earlier on. The house would also need a lot of care. One needs to protect it from insects and get the plastering changed once in a few years.
However, this form of sustainable architecture has piqued the interest of people, and many have reached out to Samyuktha and her team with queries around the possibility of the team building a similar structure for them.