Tebogo Home for Handicapped Children

Orange Farm is a township in the southwest of Johannesburg. The social situation is characterised by poverty, AIDS and unemployment. The appearance of the development is dominated largely by buildings or shacks made mostly of sheet metal, corrugated iron or parts of cars. In summer it can become unbearably hot in these shacks (up to 45°C), while during winter nights it can be noticeably cold (to 2°C).

BASE habitat was commissioned by the Tebogo Home for Handicapped Children. The Austrian NGO SARCH set up this contact for us. The home for almost 50 children had become too small. In a group of 25 students we planned and built a dining building with a new kitchen, and a therapy building with sanitary facilities. A generously dimensioned pergola, a garden hall, connects the buildings with each other. The buildings we erected in Tebogo have a pleasant indoor climate throughout the year – without the use of energy. In this way we were able to reduce the fluctuation in temperature to only 9°C. Local workers, above all women, were integrated in the project. The building materials were acquired directly from the township: concrete blocks, earth, clay, straw, timber, grass mats – to strengthen the local economy and to make later repetition easier. One of the main aims was to make buildings that suited the needs of the children. They received a home that conveyed a sense of security and joy in living.

Bousillage Construction

The Gaudet House c. 1830, Lutcher, Louisiana

Bousillage, or bouzillage, a hybrid mud brick/cob/wattle and daub technique is a mixture of clay and Spanish moss or clay and grass that is used as a plaster to fill the spaces between structural framing and particularly found in French Vernacular architecture of Louisiana of the early 1700s. A series of wood bars (barreaux), set between the posts, helped to hold the plaster in place. Bousillage, molded into bricks, was also used as infilling between posts; then called briquette-entre-poteaux. The bousillage formed a solid mud wall that was plastered and then painted. The bousillage also formed a very effective insulation.

French Acadienne house in Lyon, France

The tradition was brought to New Orleans from France by the Acadienne (Cajun). The technique also has Naive American influences. This paper describes how “When the French built in Louisiana, their earliest houses (maison) were of this frame structure, but with the post in the ground (poteaux en terre). Sometimes the post were placed close together palisade fashion (cabane). This was a technique used by local Indians. The Indians infilled the cracks between the posts with a mixture of mud and retted Spanish moss. The French did likewise and called this mixture “bousillage”. The first framed structures were covered with horizontal cypress boards (madriers). The roof (couverture) frame was finished with cypress bark, shakes, boards, or palmetto thatch. All of these earliest structures had dirt floors and were usually only one room deep and two rooms wide separated by a fireplace.”

Tecnobarro and Quincha Metálica

Usualmente, cuando se habla de construcción con tierra cruda, se piensa inmediatamente en la construcción con “adobe”, sin embargo ambos términos no son sinónimos: el adobe es una de las tantas técnicas de construcción con tierra. Entre algunas de ellas destacan las tradicionales y más utilizadas en nuestro país, como lo son el tapial y la quincha, y otras técnicas mixtas nuevas, como el denominado tecnobarro y la quincha metálica.

Earth Architecture – The Book

Earth Architecture began February 22, 2003 as a way to organize online research on earthen architecture and now, after almost 5 years of blogging on earth architecture, a book on the subject that will be published by Princeton Architectural Press in the Fall of 2008. The book will offer a history of earthen architecture, particularly a modern history of earthen architecture which touches on the efforts of Cointeraux, Gaudí, Schindler, Wright, Le Corbusier, Loos, Fathy, and many more of your favorite architects of the modern era. The book also discusses Rammed Earth, Mud Brick, Compressed Earth Block and many of the several earth building technologies and how they have evolved to meet the demands of contemporary society.

The book will also feature 40 cutting edge projects designed by architects and constructed of earth from the past 35 years, including work by many well known architects such as Rick Joy, Mauricio Rocha, Rural Studio, Glenn Murcutt, Arup Associates, Mathias Klotz, Predock_Frane Architects, Cutler Anderson Architects, Reitermann and Sassenroth, Heikkinen – Komonen Architects and Yung Ho Chang, to name a few, as well as important works by lesser well known architects who have produced critical works of contemporary architecture.

This is a very exciting moment in the history of this blog. It coincides with International Listings ranking Earth Architecture among the top 100 Architecture Blogs. It is an honor to be on the list with some really great blogs. In fact, I have to give props to Geoff for the idea for announcing the impending publication. If you’d like to know more about the book or would like to be reminded when the it is released, please email me, and thanks for reading about the most widely used building material on the planet.

The Citizens’ Initiative Pavilion

The Citizens’ Initiative Pavilion, known as El Faro, is the work of architect Ricardo Higueras. Designed to be constructed for the Expo Zaragoza 2008 the pavilion is to represent society’s vigour and ability to innovate in the face of the challenges posed by water.

The section gives information on the Pavilion’s onsite location, its spaces and building features. Inspired by traditional ceramics, the pavillion will be constructed with natural materials like bamboo and mud mixed with straw.