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Posts Tagged ‘shelter’


This is the largest, most successful earthbag project in Haiti so far. They’re doing a great job in an extremely difficult situation.

“At this village in Bongnol, Haiti, Haiti Christian Development Project has completed 10 of 14 planned earthbag houses for earthquake refugees at the cost of $2200 each. Men of the community were hired to do the construction. Occupants will live in the houses at a low and affordable rent. Additional surrounding land has been acquired to extend the project.”

Patti also reports “The HCDP people are just continuing to build earthbag. They love it. Currently planning a little school/ clinic building, and buying more lots for another subdivision. Wow.”

Previous blog post: New Earthbag Houses in Bangnol, Haiti

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The blog post the other day about Temporary Shelters made with straw bales was a big hit and so I located this old instructional video and got it uploaded to my YouTube channel. I’ve already received more positive comments than most any of my other videos. This video has an incredible story. It was almost lost. Matts Myhrman lost the master copy. I managed to find one of the last remaining copies in a library, and Kelly Hart volunteered to copy it onto CD (with Matts’ permission, of course). Here it is on YouTube six years later!

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2-story Roundhouse above Survival Shelter

2-story Roundhouse above Survival Shelter


2-story Roundhouse above Survival Shelter

2-story Roundhouse above Survival Shelter

Some people dream of buying a remote getaway as a place to escape to if/when there’s a breakdown in society. Here’s an alternative for those who can’t or don’t want to move and develop a remote site: build an earthbag survival shelter and put a house on top to conceal it. (I’d build with 18″-24″ of the shelter sticking above ground, backfill and then slope the surrounding soil away from the structure.) If a radioactive cloud, flu pandemic, tornado or other disaster occurred, then you could head to the ‘basement’ and have a comfortable, safe place to reside. And if nothing bad ever happened you’d still have a low cost basement that could be used for all sorts of things. If you’re a prepper (someone who believes in being prepared for various catastrophes that life has a way of throwing our way), this would be a great place to store things like extra food and water, tools, first aid supplies and so on. By the way, this is how most of our ancestors lived. Somehow modern society thinks they’re beyond needing to prepare for difficult times, even though calamitous events occur regularly in all parts of the world.

This 2-story Roundhouse with Survival Shelter provides an easy to build small home and survival shelter in one affordable plan. It’s one of about 120 earthbag plans at Earthbag House Plans.

All plans are available through Dream Green Homes.

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Triple Dome Survival Shelter (click to enlarge)

Triple Dome Survival Shelter (click to enlarge)


This Triple Dome Survival Shelter provides much more space than my first earthbag survival shelter. This 915 sq. ft. shelter is for long term survival for a family. It is earthquake and fire resistant, bullet and nuclear fallout resistant. This earth sheltered design is built above grade to reduce risk of flooding. Features include buried cistern between the domes, plenty of storage space, vaulted entry with bullet resistant cellar door. Let’s hope for the best, but it’s also prudent to be prepared for the worst.

Triple Dome Survival Shelter

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This post is from a website called Hybrid Willows. It covers the construction of an experimental earthbag dome shelter.

Experimental Earthbag Dome Shelter

Experimental Earthbag Dome Shelter


In early 2009 I decided to try to build an earthbag dome shelter in the woods. Without much preparation or knowledge, I started in early May to clear and dig the site so I could fit the 12′ interior inside the dug area. My mission was simple: build something fast and simple, with very little input. I bought sandbags and plastic, but everything else I got out of a garbage ditch or in the forest. But then something happened that shattered my potential dome dreams. My window I had placed was not up to earthbag dome code and I paid the price for my thoughtlessness. It created a rumble in the jungle and I let out primal screams, as if I was a mystical creature in the woods on par with Bigfoot. Later, I had wished I had caught such a moment on video since my camera was close by. So with this disaster coming to the forefront, and me nearly out of time for the time allotted for this project, I scrapped my dome idea and got back to work. Instead of a dome, I made a flat roof with logs. Then put plastic on it and covered it in dirt. So if I shall become homeless, now I have a place to live out my life in seclusion. The end.

Image credit: Lance Kleckner

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World Shelters -- Bags of Shelter

World Shelters -- Bags of Shelter


Today’s post is from the World Shelters website at Appropedia.org.

Bags of Shelter is an earthbag shelter designed for World Shelters to use as transitional shelter for people in Haiti affected by the January 2010 earthquake. World Shelters is a non-profit organization dedicated to producing housing for disaster relief and general humanitarian needs. A four person design team, Humangineers, designed Bags of Shelter as part of Lonny Grafman’s Introduction to Design class at Humboldt State University.

This project was done for our 12-week assignment for Introduction to Design for the Spring 2010 semester. Our client, World Shelters, asked Humangineers to use dirt as a resource in order to provide transitional housing for the people of Haiti. Seven criteria were established by World Shelters and they include: Level of Safety, Use of Local Labor, Durability and Repairability, Ratio of Dirt of the Structure, Cost, Ease of Mass Production and Ecological Impacts.

Humangineers recommends Bags of Shelter because it is a suitable design for World Shelters and meets the client criteria. Bags of Shelter uses dirt as a primary building resource. The design also provides a way for Haitians to stimulate their local economy by making barbed wire and also by building the entire structure itself. Overall, Bags of Shelter is a functional design for transitional housing in Haiti. Humangineers recommends the use of lime plaster as an exterior coating for the structure. The total projected cost for Bags of Shelter is $272.81.

Complete article is at World Shelters Bags of Shelter.

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Here’s another project taking off to help Haiti. Text quoted from their website.

We are an interdisciplinary research and design team from the University of Cincinnati. We were formed to provide a long term growth plan for the Good Shepherd Orphanage in Carrefour, Haiti. However, our ambitions do not stop there. We hope to use the orphanage as a model to introduce and disseminate sustainable design to all Haitians.

The Orange Tree Atelye

The Orange Tree Atelye

Our focus in this project was to use sustainable resources which are readily available to Haitians, while at the same time making the design both earthquake-resistant and hurricane-resistant. We landed on earthbag construction, a method employed throughout the world and providing just the benefits for which we were looking. Using proper stacking methods, horizontal reinforcement, and a cement-based plaster, the well-constructed earthbag wall is able withstand hurricane forces, but also is able to shift enough during an earthquake to avoid falling in on a building’s inhabitants. During the earthquake which hit Haiti in January of 2010, the Sun House, constructed using this method and very close to the epicenter not only survived the earthquake, but did not even sustain any major damage.

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Architects, engineers and designers were quick to help create safer, more sustainable designs after the December 2004 tsunami in Southeast Asia. One effort at the Geiger Research Institute of Sustainable Building led to an earthbag design, another effort developed a bamboo design with earthbag (sandbag) footings. Architects Diego Lastres and Daniella Corvetto were key to this bamboo design.

Post-Tsunami Affordable Housing Project: Bamboo Design

Post-Tsunami Affordable Housing Project: Bamboo Design

The main concept of the post-tsunami bamboo design is a raised structure that is adaptable to varied topographic conditions along coastal areas. The structure would minimize cost, maximize livable space, and serve as a shelter in extreme weather conditions. The structure is to be built using inexpensive, strong and sustainable materials such as bamboo and sandbags.

For the complete article, please order from The Last Straw journal.
Post-Tsunami Affordable Housing Project: Bamboo Design
by Owen Geiger, TLS Correspondent, Diego Lastres, Daniella Corvetto

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Here’s another dirt cheap earthbag house – this one is in Mexico. I just found a new video about the house, and the owner’s daughter who helped build the house said it cost about $2,000! We need more stories like this. At some point people will stop paying ridiculously high prices and switch over to earthbag building and other natural building methods.

This price, or something close to it, reveals the true cost of construction using earthbags. If you’re paying substantially more, then your money is going toward inflated prices for things. Sure, things are more expensive in the US than Mexico, but watch the video and see what I mean. That $2,000 house would cost maybe $125,000 (or more) in many places of the US. Part of the solution is to build your own small, simple house and avoid credit.

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The UN estimates 1.2 billion people lack adequate shelter and over one hundred million are homeless. Why is this happening when the solution is readily apparent and well proven? The answer lies in using locally available, natural building materials to construct affordable housing. Highly processed modern materials are not affordable for the masses and carry an unacceptable environmental toll.

New developments are improving on old ideas. One such breakthrough is earthbag building (also called sandbag building), which involves filling, stacking and tamping bags of earth. Earthbag building allows for a wide range of soil types – you don’t need a special ‘adobe’ soil. Earthbag builders have used subsoil, sand, ‘fill dirt’, reject fines from sand and gravel producers, marina dredgings and road base. Usually the soil at or near the building site is acceptable, thus reducing costs. Read the rest of the article at IdeaMarketers.com

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