Adobe Alliance Nubian Vault Workshop

The Adobe Alliance is hosting a Nubian Vault Workshop March 6th through 13th. Participants will be introduced to the craft of building a Nubian vault using small bricks measuring 10″x7″x1.5″. Hands-on teaching and theory are offered in English and Spanish by Instructor Stevan de la Rosa of Baja California. Simone Swan teaches design, history and gladly discusses in English and French, experiences in earth architecture based on her apprenticeship in Egypt with architect Hassan Fathy (1900-1989). Workshops are limited to 10 participants. There will be three Intern positions for hard working individuals who would like to immerse themselves deeper in the knowledge of woodless construction. Internship runs from March 1st until March 22nd.

Workshop fees for students run $600 paid by February 5th, and $650 thereafter. This includes instruction, materials, and lunches for the duration of the workshop. On site camping with minimal facilities is $3.00 per person per night. For more information about the workshop and to register, write to and visit our webpage. An early, non-refundable deposit of $200 to the non-profit Adobe Alliance, Inc., allows us to reserve a slot for each student, thus helping to cover in advance the expenses of preparatory work.

Information on lodging, meals and directions is posted on the website The Adobe Alliance, Inc., continues its curriculum of adobe design and building thanks to funding made by believers in the future of earth architecture as a healthy and structurally sound material for living. Donations are needed for running our program and are eminently appreciated.

The Adobe Alliance Featured in Mother Earth News

Photo by Yasmina Rossi.

“The allure of elegant earthen architecture can be life-changing. At least that was the case for urbane New Yorker Simone Swan, who in the 1970s became fascinated with the ideas and designs of renowned Egyptian architect Hassan Fathy. Then the 40-something executive head of the Houston-based Menil Foundation, Swan moved to Cairo to study with Fathy. She became his most passionate advocate, and transplanted his adobe building techniques to the Southwestern United States.”

[ Mother Earth News | Adobe Alliance ]

Rammed Earth Bench

To introduce a hands-on understanding of materials, 12 advanced design students designed and constructed a rammed-earth bench in the Goldsmith Hall Courtyard. The rammed-earth investigation was one of three class investigations that explored the nature of materials in response to particular sites.

Box Box House



tick2.jpgRonald Rael and Virginia San Fratello. Ocotillo, mesquite, yucca and sotol serve as the backdrop and the view of the landscape from the house extends out to the Davis Mountains in the distance.

The name of the house comes from the large, earthen box that inside contains a smaller box that houses the major utilities of the house (kitchen, bathrooms, storage, boiler, etc). The contrast between the thick, earthen walls and the concrete lintels that interpenetrate the facade to create openings, as well as the use of stainless steel in contrast with the earth, create a tension between old and new, rough and smooth, industrial and non-industrial. Inside, a large courtyard opens to the interior and to the sky.

Vault Building Workshop

Jesusita Jimenez, master mason and project manager,
hands-on instructor.

The Adobe Alliance offers a vault-building workshop from March 6 to 11, 2008, or longer by arrangement. We will dig the foundation, build walls with 18″ adobes, and the roof with smaller adobe bricks. Adobes will be delivered from Ojinaga, Mexico, and mortar is mixed on site at Swan House and Lab, 9 miles east of Presidio on farm road 170 east and 1.5 miles north on Casa Piedra road.

Fee: $350 for 3 days and includes lunch. Check payable to non-profit Adobe Alliance, mail to P.O. Box 1915, Presidio, TX, 79845. Lodging is nearby at motels or RV park Loma Paloma. Bring plenty of potable water, gloves, one bucket, total solar protection. Dogs welcome. Internships negotiated individually.

Adobe Alliance Seeks Intern

The Adobe Alliance, a Texas based non-profit organization whose aims include to apply cooperative building techniques in earth architecture is seeking a resident intern to work in Santa Fe, New Mexico or from a distance. Responsibilities will include research, image scanning, simple bookkeeping, assisting with workshop organization, website maintenance, and telephone management. The ideal person is a graduate student in architecture, art/art history, public policy or related fields. To learn more, please contact Ms. Simone Swan at or visit

The Adobe Alliance

The Adobe Alliance is an organization committed to building low-cost energy efficient housing that is climatically and environmentally compatible and to fill widespread needs for sustainable, salubrious housing while enhancing the unique landscape of the Big Bend region of West Texas and other desert environments through the utilization of mud-brick as a primary material in these endeavors