Our natural building course starts today. This morning, we had our first lesson from Mariana who is our course instructor. She’s originally from Mexico and studied civil engineering. She worked several years as an engineer before going on to study natural building techniques at the Auroville Earth Institute.
Prior to the earthquake in Nepal, most of the houses were built using cement and stones. These are heavy materials which caused a lot of deaths when the buildings collapsed during the earthquake. Marianna explained that houses made out of earth bags and compressed stabilised earth bricks are more earthquake resilient. It is also more eco-friendly as the soil is an abundant resource in the region. There are 2 dome houses built out of earth bags in the camp.
Over the years, Conscious impact has helped to rebuild over 90 houses for the Takure community. To date, thanks to the support of fundraisers and donors, they were able to provide housing for almost everyone in the community and are moving on to other improvements such as accessibility to clean water supply for every household. In the village, there are no taps inside the houses. Water is supplied from taps outside of their houses. Orion brought us to see the 40,000 litres water tank that they built for the community in the village (see photo of water tank below). The water tank is built on a higher ground so that they can make use of gravity to supply the water via pipes to people in the village.
Then we went for a tour around the village. Started off with a tour of the public auditorium which they built using some recycled plastic bottles and earth bags. The plastic bottles were stuffed with used and unwanted plastic materials (like wrappers) collected from the camp. This makes the bottles stronger and will not crumple when used as a construction material.
Next, we visited one of the villager, Sunita Tamang’s house. It was the first earth bag home they built after earthquake.
There was a newly renovated house next to the auditorium which was conducting a Tibetan puja that morning. We had permission from the owner to join in for a short session during their celebrations.
There is a mini mart at the corner of the junction selling snacks and candies. We ordered tea and sat there enjoying the scenery of Himalayan mountains and cool breeze. It’s a really nice spot and I enjoyed the Nepalese tea.
Group photo. From left: me, Aayusha, Sachinn, Bibek, Orion, Aaishma and Pratik
We went back and did a tour of camp, visiting the mushroom structure and dome houses.
2 dome houses built out of earth bags. One was still under construction.
Afterwards, Mariana gave us a theory lesson about cob, adobe, rammed earth, compressed stabilised earth bricks, and wattle and daub. Cob comprises of soil, sand and straw.
We went for another walk to watch the sunset.