Posts Tagged ‘Nepal’

The driving factor behind this project is the belief that simple design is high design, particularly when working in the developing world.

For the Love of Earthbags (F.L.O.E.) is an interactive design project that aims to prove that it’s possible to approach high-design in a manner that is tasteful, modern, and groundbreaking by using only the most basic materials, such as the dirt beneath our feet.

This project is an initiative led by architect Travis Hughbanks and supported by Edge of Seven (www.edgeofseven.org) in partnership with the local community of Basa, Nepal.

Edge of Seven is a nonprofit organization that generates awareness and volunteer support for projects that invest in education, health and economic opportunity for girls in developing countries. According to the World Bank, 30 percent of Nepalis live in poverty and this population is most concentrated in rural areas where people survive off of agriculture and subsistence farming. For Edge of Seven, earthbags offered an opportunity to improve rural educational infrastructure and combat poverty in the most low-cost, efficient and sustainable way possible.

How will the funding be spent? The money raised through this campaign will be used for supplies to create the earthbag school, educational tools, and the production of the graphic materials.

F.L.O.E.’s end goal is to elevate the practice of earthbag construction by producing several engaging and creative educational materials that will be used both to promote earthbag construction and teach local residents how to build with this method. The materials to be produced are an animated video and a graphic print manual.

To read more about this innovative project and see more of their interesting graphics check out this website: www.indiegogo.com

We have profiled the Nepali school project on several other posts:

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The first of three earthbag schools in Nepal, built by Edge of Seven and The Small World.

The first of three earthbag schools in Nepal, built by Edge of Seven and The Small World.


This earthbag school is in a remote village in the Solkhumbu District of Nepal.

This earthbag school is in a remote village in the Solkhumbu District of Nepal.


Bond beam on earthbag school in Nepal.

Bond beam on earthbag school in Nepal.

“On October 31, 2011, Edge of Seven and The Small World Nepal broke ground on a two-room secondary school in the village of Phuleli, located in the Solukhumbu District of Nepal. Five months later (following a two-month winter break), we put the finishing touches on the interior of the very first earthbag structure to be built in the Solkhumbu District of Nepal. The school in Phuleli is the first of three earthbag buildings Edge of Seven and The Small World will construct in the district.

Phuleli is a village found deep in the Himalayas, with no roads or airports within an eight-hour hike. Any material that is not available on site must be portered in by humans or carried in by mules on a narrow mountain trail that leads over a pass of 10,000 + feet.

The directive for the small school was simple: to provide two classrooms, each 15’ x 25’ with an exterior space that would give students refuge from the summer monsoon rains. The building itself is 48′ x 18′, with an additional 9’ porch on each end. The height of the earthbag walls is 6’6,” with a 6″ rebar-reinforced concrete ringbeam above. The first two courses of earthbags were filled with small gravel broken by hammer from larger stones excavated on site. The remaining bags were filled with sifted, excavated dirt, which was tested and found to be of an ideal clay-to-sand ratio of roughly 25:75.

Specific Details:
Bags: 18” x 30”. Corners were diddled and bags were sewn shut with a light-gauge tie wire.

Barbed Wire: 4 point, 10 gauge. (Barbed wire used is not the ideal gauge, but it was the only size of barbed wire available in Nepal.)

Doors and Windows: Oak. The wood used for the doors and window frames was of shockingly high quality and harvested locally. The frames were constructed in the typical Nepali manner and weigh about 300 pounds each. While they look beautiful, we will be working on reducing the amount of wood for the next project’s frames.

Plaster: Cement plaster was used with chicken wire mesh lathe. Since Nepal is in a very active seismic zone, chicken wire is required for plastering. We used a 1:4 ratio for the plaster, but for future projects will be using at least a 1:3 ratio due to the low quality of the sand and cement available. Cement had to be trekked in by mules from the larger villages of Phaplu and Salleri, and the sand was harvested at the nearest river (located about 1.5 hours walk from the site) and sifted and cleaned on site.

Foundation: Stone and cement. A stone foundation was laid with a cement plaster exterior. The floor is stone and cement. We had initially planned on a dirt floor, for sustainability and cost reasons, but it was later determined that a dirt floor would not be durable in a school environment.

Tie Beam: #4 Rebar reinforced concrete beam. Horizontal rebar for tie beam is connected into earthbag walls by 3’6″ L shaped rebar anchors at roughly 24″ o.c.

Roof: Corrugated metal with wood structure. The exterior of the soffit was enclosed with plywood due to the high winds in the region.

Built in Porch Seating: Built out of earthbags.

Paint: Whitewash. Liquid paint is very expensive to hike into the villages, so we opted for powder whitewash, which is the traditional form of painting in the region.

Labor: 33% local volunteer, 33% western volunteer, and 33% local paid labor.

The actual construction time was roughly 3 months with a project cost of $22,000. The cost of building was slightly higher in the villages than other earthbag projects have reported due to site conditions and material transportation costs. A substantial chunk of our budget was eaten up by the clearing and leveling of the site, the construction of retaining walls, and transportation of cement, sand, barbed wire. etc. to the site. Looking at building costs alone we came in at $16-$17 per sq. ft., which we are confident can be brought down closer to $13-$14 per sq. ft. with more experience.”

For anyone interested in building with earthbag construction in Nepal contact:
Travis Hughbanks, Edge of Seven, Edge of Seven Blog, U.S.A.
hugh2834 [at] gmail.com

Karma Sherpa, The Small World, Nepal

Project page with more photos and description: earthbagbuilding.com

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Let’s start the year with a thoughtful, positive message that focuses on goodness, helping others and reminding ourselves how we can accomplish anything we really want.

About the movie Opening Our Eyes: “We are two people – a mother and a daughter – who embarked on a journey around the world to document and film the stories of individuals – ordinary people who are following their own dreams, passions and ambitions and doing extraordinary things.

We filmed 11 subjects on 6 continents. Each of the films will stand alone as an online video as well as be a part of a full length documentary. We will use technology, web 2.0 and social media to share these stories and open the eyes of others to what they can do to “make a difference”.

We believe in the power of one – the power of the individual – the power that each one of us has to effect positive change. Two people who believe in the power of one.”

Source: Opening Our Eyes
Part of the movie is about the Kopila Valley Children’s Home in Nepal that was started by Maggie Doyne. We covered her story in a previous blog post. Also, Maggie Doyne was featured in the New York Times Magazine. Several earthbag projects are taking off in Nepal and perhaps Kopila Valley Children’s Home will experiment with earthbags someday and help spread the message. (They’re currently building with bamboo and it would be interesting to see how the two methods compare in their situation.)

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We have been following the building of a school in Nepal with earthbags and just got the following note from one of the organizers of that project:

I just wanted to thank you for all your efforts and work in documenting and promoting earthbag construction.  I am working with an organization in rural Nepal to build schools in areas where timber is scarce and skilled labor is limited and we have started building with earthbag construction. Your websites, reports, video’s, etc. have been an invaluable resource and I think I am safe to say there is no way we would be where we are today without your resources.

Not only are we just building schools but more importantly we are training the local NGO (non-profit organization) to build with earthbags, who will in turn educate all of the local villagers of an alternative building method to the traditional stone and mud.  The areas we are working are only accessible by foot (8 hour hike from the nearest air strip) and all materials not found in the natural surroundings have to be hiked in by porter or mule.  Due to this restriction building technology in general has not advanced and villagers are still building the same un-reinforced stone and mud structures they did centuries ago, even though they are in the highest of earthquake zones.

Anyway I just wanted to say thank you again and let you know of the impact and reach of your work.
Travis Hughbanks

A previous blog post about this project explains more about this project.

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This school, an earthbag construction project, is the first of its kind in the region and (from what we know) just the 2nd time earthbags have been utilized in Nepal! (click to enlarge)

This school, an earthbag construction project, is the first of its kind in the region and (from what we know) just the 2nd time earthbags have been utilized in Nepal! (click to enlarge)

“Together, with the local community and our Nepali project partner, we began construction on a much-needed lower secondary school for students in classes 7 and 8. Inspired, energized and more aware of the issues facing the developing world, our volunteers are now settling back into life at home as they process through their experiences.

The Need: In rural Nepal, most families live off of subsistence farming. Household chores like collecting and chopping wood, harvesting millet, feeding animals, fetching water, cooking, cleaning, laundry, and so on, require more hours than there are in a day. Families need the support of their children to get by and sometimes opt to keep their kids out of school (particularly if the school is not nearby). In rural areas, girls bare the brunt of the work, often marry early, and are disproportionally affected by the barriers to education. In Nepal, just 38% of girls eligible to attend secondary school actually attend school regularly (in comparison to 46% of boys).

The Solution: Phuleli’s community leadership approached our Nepali project partner, asking that we construct classrooms for grades 7 and 8, so that more students (and thus more girls) could receive a basic education in the village where they live.

Thanks to Edge of Seven’s generous community of supporters, we were able to raise the funding required for the school and broke ground in early November. The school should be finished in late December and 49 students will move into the new classrooms in January. Over the past several weeks volunteers worked tirelessly beside skilled laborers and the Phuleli community to clear the site, lay the foundation and begin construction on the facility. See photo of our progress below (the white bags are where we are building). In fact, I actually heard news just this morning that the team remaining in Phuleli laid the last earthbag today!”

Source: Edge of Seven
(Lots more great info on their website. Of all the places doing earthbag building, Nepal is at or near the top of my list to visit and help build. Don’t forget I’m from the mountains of Colorado, ya know!)

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Earthbag in Nepal

Earthbag in Nepal

We’ve been getting a fair number of inquiries from Nepal. It’s always great to hear from readers, but sometimes certain emails really stand out. This one really made my day. They sent some lovely project photos.

Dear Sir,
I am Narayan writing from Nepal. I am currently working in designing and building natural buildings in Nepal, specially Earthbag building. Recently, together with my friend, we have completed a earthbag home (round house). Please find the attached photo for your reference.

Main source of our inspiration and learning is from your website and blog. People of Nepal are putting their interest towards natural buildings after we have build this house as model. This is also becoming a source of inspiration and idea for people here.

I found your Earthbag workshop very relevant to me. I am interested to learn new tools, techniques and materials to build Earhbag building so that the learning can be applied in Nepal in the days to come. Since we are base in hot tropical region, the design and construction of cool pantry is very essential. It is very important to learn how to build a Cool Pantry for me.

We have been getting overwhelming response from people to build such buildings.We have already received demand for six houses. All buildings are volunteer in nature.

To meet this growing need, I need to learn more and more on Earthbag building and practice, which I believe this workshop would fulfill.

Therefore, I would like to apply as participant for the workshop. I am also keen to explore scholarship opportunity to attend this workshop.

Looking forward to hear from you.
Best, Narayan

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