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Components of Shelter:

The Shelter is a component of community which can also be broken down into it’s own components. These are:


1. Foundation/floor The foundation in cold weather it is built below the frostline to prevent heaving or shifting from the change in temperature. In other climates it is often built upon the “bedrock” below the subsoil to prevent shifting and slippage.The floor is an extension of the foundation and the connection to our soles. Nowadays concrete is a popular way of creating a foundation to a home. If you have the money, it is considered a convenient way to quickly fill a hole with a hard material. In earlier times we have used stone (both gravel and large stones) which last much longer and do not "wick" water up from the ground into your home. Concrete foundations require a damp course - which is basically a sheet of plastic between it and the walls to prevent water from wicking up the walls from under the ground. The oldest continuously inhabited structures on earth in each continent, including those that have successfully withstood earthquakes are made with stone foundations. Stone is a material that can most often be easily sourced from nearby- on this great planet of ours. Stone has taken millions of years to form and is an amazing example of mother nature's mastery. Considering all the benefits of using stone it makes sense for modern engineering to promote the use of stones for foundations. Foundations and floors made of stone and gravel can provide the weight and strength of concrete without the“wicking” or upward draw of water into the structure. Also the manufacture of concrete is extremely taxing to our environment. In order to get concrete you need a factory, with a fire capable of extremely high temperatures, and a mine to get the ingredients which usually takes a series of very large loans from a bank. Today's youth will need to take a leadership role in reversing this to favor common sense and layman's wisdom to shift this balance of power back into the hands of the every day man. Remember, in order to get stone there is much less to do overall, because it is already here in abundant quantities.


2. Load Bearing Walls which include the openings, Load bearing walls create and contain the inside space, the barrier from the outside, and hold up the roof. Load bearing walls are walls that bears the weight of the roof.  Openings - doors, windows, let out/in air, light, and provide/deny/limit access/entry.  Most new load bearing walls today are built with wood and then insulated from any number of materials made from processes that create pollution and which also off-gas carcinogenic substances into the home. Since trees provide us with air and since wooden walls are prone to burning down it is time for modern day engineering to promote the use of unfired earthen masonry for building load bearing walls. In order to get earth to build with you don't have to do much because it is in abundant quantities. In order to get wood we have to take down trees which we are doing faster than they can be replenished. Today's youth will need to take a leadership role in reversing this to favor common sense and layman's wisdom and do their part to shift the balance of power back into the hands of the every day man. I sound like I'm repeating myself.


3. The Roof, and ceiling provide protection from the elements above - sun, rain, snow etc, and hold/insulate warm air created from heating. When building with sundried earthen masonry in a climate where it rains, long overhanging eaves especially on the side of the prevailing winds/storms can prevent water damage to the walls. There are many designs for roof from dome to gabled to pitched to shed and others. The main components of wooden roofs are beams, rafters and shingles or covering. Time should be taken to choose a roof that best suits your structure. Using “tie-downs” buried deep and low into the walls, ensures that roof beams can be adequately tied down using the weight/mass of the earth walls. This further reduces the need for timber and steel without compromising safety. Long overhanging eaves collect and direct water and splash drops away from the structure while also providing more shade. Cone and egg shaped dome roofs made using unfired earth are ambitious designs that further diminish the need for/dependency upon wood.


4. The Appliances/Furniture Furniture and appliances that can be made using unfired earthen masonry include seating, shelving, ovens, high efficiency woodburning“rocket” stoves, pantry, cellar, basin, water storage tanks and table supports. Appliances such as a stove/heater to provide warmth in a cold climate, and to cook. A cellar is used to cool and store food. Furniture is to sit on, lie on, or display things. The earthen rocket stove and the earthen oven are great appliances that can be sculpted out of earthen mixtures right into the furniture that is also sculpted this way.


5. The Structure’s Placement. This includes ensuring that the structures openings are facing the sun, (south in Northern Hemisphere and North in Southern Hemisphere) for passive solar heating. The ideal location also takes into consideration water drainage to ensure that you are not in flood plain area or in path of moving water, and not in an area that might be best for some other use such as growing food. Water drainage ditches can be dug around your structure to prevent water from flowing in your direction. Also out of forest fire reach, that is easily accessible with a pleasant aspect and with 3 or more good reasons for gathering there. Openings facing north to take advantage of winter and summer solstices (high and low points of the sun’s rise and set) to maximize passive solar gain and protect against hot and cold temperature extremes. Small or no openings on the south and west to protect from excess cold and heat.


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