Are there any other natural building technologies other than Straw Bales? Print E-mail
FAQs - General Questions

Stone Construction:

  • Properly built stone is an extremely durable material.
  • Stone has a high thermal mass, which can be used to buffer the extremes of temperature
  • Minimizes the use of concrete.
  • Is a very low maintenance material.
  • Aesthetically very pleasing and ages very well.


Adobe Construction (Sun Dried Mud Brick)

  • The raw materials are normally readily available and simple tools are needed.
  • These walls offer much better thermal comfort performance when compared to concrete buildings.
  • Strengths are typically good for double storey construction.
  • This method can be very durable provided good detailing with proper damp proofing as well as natural plasters (earth and lime) and paints that breath are used.
  • The Adobe brick mix is carefully prepared by mixing clay-rich soil/ sand/ straw with the correct proportions.
  • The adobe mix is placed in the moulds and the bricks are left out to dry in the sun for one month. The longer it dries the stronger it gets.


Cob

  • A mixture of clay, straw and sand is mixed together into a stiff consistency and packed directly onto a masonry plinth wall.
  • The straw acts as reinforcing and while the compacted earth and sand mix create the compressive strength.
  • This material is very durable.
  • Offering relatively good levels of thermal comfort.
  • Mixing and building with cob is very simple and easy to work with.
  • Materials can often be sourced from the site itself saving on transport costs.
  • It is also extremely versatile due to its sculptural qualities and is often used in combination with other natural building methods, like straw bale and sand bag wattle and daub etc.


Light Clay

* A mixture of clay, straw and sand is mixed together and placed between a shutter framework and compressed.
* The timber framing structure, Shutter work is constructed and fixed in position.
* Materials can be sourced from the site itself and is easy to work with.
* Offers very high levels of insulation for relatively thin walls.

Sand bag construction

  • Aside from the foundations, this system requires no cement or binder, and besides sand, the bags can be filled with clay, rubble or gravel.
  • Bags are dry-packed between timber ladder frames, which are positioned vertically at approx 1,0m centres and reinforced with a timber lintel plate at 2,4m height.
  • The clay and lime plastered walls provide superior insulation to regular concrete block construction.
  • Allows for use of freely available local and scrap material.
  • Is a very solid durable construction
  • Has excellent thermal and acoustic properties.


Compressed Earth Block

  • Building blocks made of clay soils with 3-5% of lime or cement stabilizer.
  • Bricks can be used for dome & vault construction (Avoiding use of conventional structural materials for roofs)
  • Attachments can be purchased to manufacture different shaped brick as well as various roof-tiles.
  • Costs 20% less than a conventional brick.
  • 80% of the cost of the bricks goes toward creating work onsite.
  • Durability - Stabilized bricks can be used as face bricks.


Wattle Daub Construction

  • Stone, earth clumps or rubble is sourced from recycling dumps and placed in a timber frame work.
  • The walls are plastered using clay and lime based plasters.
  • A good foundation & footing i.e. stone, brick etc is used.
  • Boron treated or bio-dynamically harvested timbers are used.
  • Local saplings are nailed or bound to upright poles forming frame work for the wall structure.
  • This method is already in widespread use around the country, however due to the lack of timber treating and poor or lack of proper damp proofing and use of a masonry base wall, this method is not nearly as durable as it should be.


(Also please see: “ What materials can I use to build a “green” house? " )

 

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We offer a number of construction & info manuals on our website on natural building technologies which specifically refer to the South African context. The info manual "A LIME DUNG PLASTER RECIPE" has recently been added to the collection.   Click here for more information.

All our manuals are also now available as E-Book downloads. Click here for the E-Books.