The walls are done! Really basking in the glory here. Feeling an enormous sense of pride as well as gratitude for all those who helped accomplish this goal. I feel very lucky that so many people were ready to come lend a hand in getting this done. I have a whole new appreciation for how much work is involved in putting up walls made of earth yet it still seems like a small effort when compared to how long this building should stand. If I have done my job right these walls will live much much longer than I will. No small sense of wonder in that. I know it is a very humble structure and anyone reading this who has ever built anything of truly significant size is probably rolling their eyes but have patience with me. This is the first thing like this I have ever done and it gives me awe and admiration for those whose job it is to create buildings that others live and work in. I wonder if we give those folks enough credit and gratitude.
So, the hard part is done! And just in time. Here the northwest of the US the weather is turning very wet. The tarps we hung over the project site are doing a good job of keeping the area relatively dry (the humidity is slowing the bags from curing faster than they would in the summer) but they have greatly limited the head space during construction. The way they hang over the area causes them to angle low over some sections of the wall so you have to duck under and then lift the tarp with your head while you are tamping the bags down. This is literally a huge pain in the neck!
Still, there is still a LOT of work to do. A LOT. Filling the gaps between bags with mud and straw, hanging a plaster mesh, plastering, back filling with gravel, pour the bond beam and cement floor OH! and lets not forget the roof!
|3d rendering of the rafter design.|
The plan for the roof is to make it a Living roof, also called a Green roof. There are many great advantages to making a living roof.A few of them are:
Storm water management- this is an important landscape feature in my area where rain fall is almost constant 9 months out of the year. This roof will slow a good bit of rain fall and divert run off into a drainage channel away from the building site of the main house.
Since I wont be planting anything that needs more than a few inches of soil I wont have to build the roof with anything much heavier than a normal roof. This type of living roof is known as "extensive". In this style, the soil depth is generally no more the 4-5 inches which allows for enough soil depth to support sebums, herbs and small drought hardy perennials. this type really doesn't require much in the way of specific design considerations as the end product is in the same weight class as a standard, well built roof design meant to carry snow loads.
The other type of living roof is known as "Intensive". Soil depth on Intensive type green roofs are 6 inches up to 2 feet! These roof designs will require serious planning and engineering and is well beyond the scope of small structures like this.
If you have followed the process on the blog this far I want to express gratitude to you as well. This has been enormous fun and its very rewarding to be able to share the experience with other people.
Building an entire house is still a long way away and the magnitude of that project dwarfs this by a large margin but now I feel like I have a new perspective on what I am capable of and that this isnt just a wild, hair-brained scheme in my head anymore.
Seeing this project develop, starting with reading a book about earthbags and then manifesting strong, secure walls into physical reality creates a deep confidence which lends strength to the belief that all the goals we have for this land and our lives is possible.
Thanks for reading!