During the courses I run I observe how much fun people have when building with earth. It is intuitive, kind, forgiving and fun. It literally connects us to the earth. One earthen building technique that’s a creative and low cost way of getting started in the natural building world is super adobe.
Architect Nader Khalili spent a couple of decades designing skyscrapers, then after some time in the Iranian desert he developed the concept of super adobe dome clusters in 1984. The building method is now widely used and is endorsed by the United Nations.
The technique involves compacting polypropylene bags filled with earth until they are totally solid. These bags are low cost and available almost everywhere. For small projects you don’t necessarily need the long rolls, you can use individual bags. Barbed wire is placed in-between the bags, which serves as reinforcement and mortar. The barbed wire adds tensile (horizontal) strength.
As a builder, teacher and facilitator I like super adobe construction because it is sustainable, creative, artistic and durable. It feels realistic and doable for people to get started. It has many applications, from houses, play areas, or shelters for small animals. It is great to start with small projects to gain experience and confidence, and they can often be created in back gardens, schools and public areas.
Matt Prosser 10.02.2017