Sandbag Building Technology


  • Various sandbag building systems have been used over the last 100 years or so, originating in the military.
  • In 2003 Eco Design Architects developed their own generic design for using sand bags in conjunction with timber ladder frames for use in the Twin Streams Staff housing project.


  • Allows for use of freely available local and scrap material.
  • Is a very solid durable construction
  • Has excellent thermal and acoustic properties
  • Involving Community: Allows for the setting up of a series of Micro-enterprises with use of local material, i.e.
  • Harvesting timber poles
  • Treating timber with non-toxic timber preservative
  • Collecting sand/rubble and salvaging small dimensioned timbers
  • Timber ladder manufacture
  • Bag manufacture.
  • Cost effective as the simplicity of construction means one can used unskilled labour to build the walls.
  • Technical information:
  • 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 ring beam plate at 2,4m height.
  • The clay and lime plastered walls provide superior insulation when compared to regular concrete block construction.

Company Track record/examples of work:

  • House Olivier, Kromme Valley Farm Clan William, 2019
  • Office Renovations – Eco Design Offices 2014 and 2018
  • House by Marion Whiteman, Bathurst, Eastern Cape 2012.
  • Jozini Lodge, Swaziland, 2010
  • Building system design used for 8 chalets for West Coast National Park by Studio 44, 2008
  • Twinstreams Environmental Centre Staff Housing – Mtunzini, KZN, 2004. This project was awarded the Sustainable Building Best Practice Award for Africa at the Africa regional Sustainable Building Conference held at Speer 2004.

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.