Archive for the ‘Bag Material’ Category

A blog post entitled “Earthbag, Superadobe, Hiperdobe, Why Not Hiperpapercrete?” caught my eye. The author makes a very good case for filling mesh tubing with damp papercrete. Here is how he explains it:

“I have recently been reading up about earthbag/superadobe construction. One of the new techniques that some earthbaggers are very excited about utilizes a type open mesh bag material called “knit raschel.” It was started in Brazil by a guy named Fernando Pacheco. They have named their new system Hiperadobe.

The knit raschel is the same type of netting material that is often used to bag produce like onions or oranges in the supermarket. Here is a photo of what this type of knit raschel produce bag looks like. http://www.marketeo.com/photoArticle/big/1940_big.jpg

The bag material has many advantages for construction. Very low cost, fast drying for the contents, no need to run barbed wire between bag layers during construction like typical woven polypropylene earthbags bags require, and when compacted, the earth adobe mixture they use in the knit raschel bags seeps out of the netting openings slightly to mix with the adjacent bags and layers to become one big solid block very much like rammed earth, but without all the extensive formwork or the hassles of ramming tires.

All this is fascinating, but what does it have to do with papercrete you ask? Good question.

What about filling knit raschel bags or tubes with papercrete? (Manufacurers of the knit raschel material make big long tubes that are rolled up so that the company purchasing the tube can cut it to whatever length of bag they want and sew the ends shut.)

This concept has the potential to speed up papercrete construction rather dramatically while drastically reducing the man hours of labor required. No more need for fiddling around with papercrete blocks. No need to pour them into forms, individually turn and dry them. No need to then stack and store until ready to build walls. No need to mortar them into place. No need to build slipforms, wait for a layer to dry, tear off and reattach the forms, and then repour the next layer. One can simply keep working as fast as your mixer can make papercrete and you can dump it into the bag. With a small crew of unskilled people, and splitting up the various tasks assembly line style, work should proceed rapidly. You only handle the papercrete one time. You mix it, and if you fill the bag while the bag is sitting on the wall, you never have to move the papercrete again.

The netting bags would be the formwork. The netting would remain in place and become part of the structure permanently. Think of it as a very light weight reinforcing mesh, ready for interior and exterior plaster, stucco, shingles, clapboards, or whatever you choose.

The netting would allow the papercrete to drain out the excess water easily and quickly. The netting would allow the papercrete to dry in place in the wall after it has been built. The drained but damp papercrete could easily be tamped into place as the wall is built providing for some compression of the damp slurry. It would also help the layers of bags glue themselves together to become one big block of papercrete.

While earthbag is a great technology, one of the biggest drawbacks is that it can become difficult to insulate an earthbag structure if you do not have access to porous volcanic rock to fill the bags, like scoria or pumice. Where insulation is needed the most, like very cold northern regions, volcanic rock is often very expensive to have trucked in from long distances. Papercrete could be the perfect alternative that recycles material that is nearly universally available and being thrown away.

Interesting architectural shapes can be easily accomplished, like very graceful curving walls, the standard straight box type construction, or a blend of both working together.

I don’t know of anyone that has attempted Hiperpapercrete. Heck I think I may have just invented the term, but I am confident that it could work well. It would be great if someone adventurous and sharp is willing to figure out the tricks and kinks being the trailblazer. No doubt there are some details that I have not considered, but I am confident they could be addressed.

Clearly a small test structure should be the first place to start to figure out the details of how to handle the process.

The idea of building an entire highly insulated papercrete structure in a few weekends using the help of a few unskilled laborers like family or friends seems very possible. Even reasonably sized children could help.

Anyone intrigued by the idea and want to be the first to give it a shot?

Here is a video of a Hiperadobe structure getting started using the knit raschel tube material filled with adobe soil. Instead of adobe soil, imagine filling the netting tube with wet papercrete, allowing it to drain while on the wall, and tamping that into place.

Thoughts anyone?”

I think that this is a brilliant idea! I have a lot of experience with both earthbag building and papercrete (see the house I built using both at earthbagbuilding.com ). I can easily visualize making very substantial walls using the raschel mesh tubes (or even individual bags) filled with damp papercrete.

Everything about this idea fits well with the physical needs of curing papercrete: the damp papercrete is held in place while it cures; the excess water can easily drain away; the wall can breathe on both sides once it is cured; the finished wall ends up being substantially reinforced and monolithic; and all of that mesh reinforcement acts to stabilize the wall against potential seismic forces.

I’m sure that in reality it would be a messy proposition to be filling and placing that damp papercrete, but then working with papercrete tends to be a messy proposition period.

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Here is the latest installment of a series of videos that Doctor Dirtbag has uploaded to his YouTube Channel. You can find the other equally informative videos on his channel.

This is what he says about it: “West wall is done, but I’m waiting for the weather to warm up so I can plaster it. I was going to wait until the plaster was on to upload this vid, but too many requests for another video have forced my hand. Here it is in it’s unfinished glory… hope you enjoy. Music is Just For Now by Imogen Heap”

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A hat tip to Gail for sending us this story.

Thousands of Homes Built from Earth Bags Made from Re-claimed Fishing Nets — Disaster Relief
Well not yet, but it’s a good idea.

The worlds oceans and dumps are swimming in old fishing nets and building something useful from them seems an appropriate use for this resource.

Gabion cages are generally made from galvanized steel and are commonly used in retaining walls, for erosion control and for other civil earthworks. Militarily, they are used to build bunkers and other rapidly deployed fortifications.

Earth bags are used to build strong durable housing, often in areas of the world where lumber and other resources are in short supply.

I’m proposing a fusion of these techniques using discarded fishing nets sewn into bags, to contain rocks, sea shells. coconut hulls, tin cans , plastic bottles , driftwood, construction debris or any other abundant material to build both temporary and permanent housing. Stockpiled net bags could be quickly loaded onto ships and deployed to disaster zones around the world. Old nets are durable, abundant and free. In fact, it costs money to dump old nets. Tipping fees could subsidise the manufacture of bags.
So often, when there is a disaster, relief agencies are overwhelmed with all of the difficulty of transporting heavy building materials to the point of need. Bags would be light weight and virtually unbreakable. Victims of the disaster could quickly cobble together a strong shelter from whatever resource is available to fill the bags.

The manufacture of these bags should not be centralized. Instead the bags should be made in coastal villages where ever old nets accumulate. Everyone would then have an interest in cleaning up the shores and the supply of bags would be well dispersed and therefore never far from the point of need.

I’ll get back to this soon. Meanwhile please chime in. Dale

Source: Permies.com

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I am pleased to announce that Owen Geiger’s Basic Earthbag Building DVD is finally available for purchase. It has taken more time than expected to complete the production, but it is well worth the wait I think.

Owen is a natural teacher who understands how to present information in a clear and understandable way and this DVD is excellent for introducing folks to the basic essentials of sound building practice using earthbags. Much of the DVD is derived from actual instruction at workshops, so you witness the whole process from the ground up.

After an introduction to the tools and supplies that are necessary for building, they construct a small sample wall with a rubble trench foundation. Every step is fully explained and demonstrated as the wall proceeds.

The second portion of the DVD takes you through the process of building a functional cool pantry that is attached to a house. Here you can see how doors can be framed and roofs attached. There are many tips and tricks that emerge from watching that could be invaluable in constructing most any project.

At the end there are some bonus scenes that include tips for building a dome, an animated fly-through of Owen’s Enviro Dome, and a tour of Owen’s completed Earthbag Roundhouse.

With over three hours of solid instruction, this DVD would be a valuable addition to anybody’s building library. You can review portions of this DVD by exploring the short clips that are shown on Owen’s YouTube Channel. And you can purchase the DVD directly from the manufacturer for $28.

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La Casa Vergara was designed by José Andrés Vallejo and built in Bogotá, Colombia in just 5 months, early in 2011.

I am delighted to see that professional architects are beginning to accept earthbag technology as a viable approach to building. La Casa Vergara is a fine example of  an upscale home that is built by a professional crew, with solid engineering and with all of the amenities and refinements that you would expect in this class. The attention to finishes, flooring, light, and form make it an aesthetic journey just to browse the photo gallery.

I have assembled an extensive project page that reveals much about how it was actually constructed. There is very little descriptive text, so you have to study the images to follow the proceedures, but there is much to be learned from this project.

From the architect’s website.

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From www.visualnews.com comes this story about using plastic bottles filled with sand as bricks for building:

A surplus of empty plastic bottles is something that not only affects Africa, but the entire planet. In a small village in Nigeria, a solution has been applied to not only provide shelter in a poverty stricken country, but find a use for refuse. Packing sand into plastic bottles is a technique that started nine years ago in India, South and Central America.  Named “bottle brick” technology, the compacted sand inside the bottles is almost 20 times stronger than bricks.  The best part is that in a region that does not have much money to spend on building materials, the houses are estimated to cost 1/3 of a house made of concrete and bricks.

Adding to the appeal of the simple technology, the houses are ideal for the hot Nigerian climate because the bottle bricks buffer the house from the intense heat. Also, in a place known for violence, the houses are completely bullet proof. Bottles are mostly sourced from hotels, restaurants, homes and foreign embassies, so the 500 million bottles that are discarded each year in Nigeria alone are literally finding new homes instead of landfills or the ocean.  The circular houses look cool too with the exposed round bottles producing a unique design.

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The Pancake House under construction

The Pancake House under construction

The Pancake House

The Pancake House

The Sandcastle

The Sandcastle

From EarthKaya: Welcome to the future…. EarthKaya is dedicated in providing low cost, eco-housing solutions. Less time, less impact, less cost.

In a world where organic is more expensive than traditional crops, solar panels are often costly to install and electric cars inconvenient to run, many people may be reluctant to ‘go green’ at home.

But imagine a process of home building that is more economical than traditional methods, equally as sound structurally, well-insulated, sound-absorbent, releases less CO2 emissions than brick homes and reduces the carbon footprint by 70%.

EarthKaya does just that by creating structures using locally produced polypropylene bags filled with sand which are coated with small amounts of cement or an environmentally-friendly plaster such as adobe or special lime after building.

Sand bag homes are resistant to wind, sun and water vapour, remain cool in summer and warm in winter, are non-corrosive and rot-free, meaning no pesky termite problems.

Thinking of low cost building? Contact us today at EarthKaya
EarthKaya on Facebook
Note: it looks like they’re using the bags by Eternally Solar. Maybe they’ll see this blog post and leave a comment.

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The Finca Luna Nueva Lodge in Costa Rica is a sustainable rainforest eco-hotel together with a certified organic biodynamic farm. They began farming  in 1993, planting and harvesting organic ginger and turmeric. They just finished a workshop building an earthbag roundhouse, and plan to do at least one more. You can find out more about them on their Facebook page, and see many more photos  here.

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Visit Instructables.com for the best how-to articles on a wide range of topics, including earthbag building.

Visit Instructables.com for the best how-to articles on a wide range of topics, including earthbag building.

Instructables.com is one of my favorite sites and so I’ve been publishing how-to articles there for the last year or so. Here’s a list of the most popular Instructables on earthbag building.

How to Build an Earthbag Dome
Step-by-Step Earthbag Building
How to Build an Earthbag Roundhouse
How to Build Dirt Cheap Houses
How to Build an Insulated Earthbag House
Insulated Earthbag Foundations for Yurts

Total number of views as of October 25, 2011: (click on author link… now about 342,000)
Coming soon: A new Instructable on Cool Pantries.

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$6,000 EcoBeam sandbag house by MMA Architects

$6,000 EcoBeam sandbag house by MMA Architects

MMA Architects recently completed a home built out of timber and sandbags – and became the winner of the Curry Stone Foundation Prize this year. The prize is awarded to individuals or groups that create architecture that has the potential to make positive changes in a community by offering shelter, community health, peace, or clean water, air and food. This sandbag house was built for a mere $6,000, making it affordable for low-income housing. The design also utilizes uncomplicated techniques- and was constructed with the help of its future residents who were able to gain a sense of ownership through the building process.

Read more: Affordable and still Green: Sandbag Houses by MMA Architects | Inhabitat – Green Design Will Save the World
EcoBeam Video
EcoBeam Technologies

Note: Imagine building these EcoBeam houses with bags filled with lightweight insulation such scoria, pumice or other suitable material. They’d go up faster and easier, and be extremely well insulated.

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