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Unfired sundried earthen masonry

​In it's simplest form this is mud pies which children discover instinctively.

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The pros and cons of building with mud 

 

Pros. The Benefits of Building with sun dried mud mixtures.

 

Unfired earthen masonry is very conducive to transforming work into fun entertainment for all ages. Establishing the bond between man and clay-earth-mud provides a stabilizing platform from which the many other various forms of artistic, creative self expression can flow. One can set up a large community-mud-pit filled with local sand and clay, which becomes a place for everyone to interact with each other. Clay is a an intriguing fun-enhancing social lubricant and healing agent that excites the pleasure-receptors on our largest organ, the skin. Interacting with clay through our skin in social gatherings, creates instant joy, strengthens community and connects us to the basic elements of the earth itself. It grounds us or earth's us which makes feel comfortable and "at home" here on Earth as Earthlings. Clay has the capacity to stimulate all of our senses simultaneously and nourish our body with essential minerals. It is appealing to the sense of sight, sound, smell, taste and touch. It can satisfy some of our most primordial needs at the deepest level, like no other material. The clay in subsoil has healing, therapeutic qualities and so it is not only safe but also healthy to work with. Mud was made for touching. The pleasure receptors on our skin send signals to the brain such as "this feels good". The pleasurable feeling of mud has us uttering sounds that aren’t even words. Or are they? I’m talking about...."Icky, Ooey, Gooey, Sloppy, Slimy, slippery, goopy and gloppy." Also "ewwww, ahhh, ohhhh and eeeeee."Even after it dries, clay continuously emits ions with health generating and healing properties and it repels dust particles to increase indoor air quality in the same way that nature does. It’s a very simple, low-tech, building system which allows anyone, young or old, to become actively involved in the construction process. This is great because young people have the capacity to bring joy and fun to a workplace through play. It is very conducive to fun, friendly, community participation.

 

Unfired earthen masonry is an inexpensive, sustainable and eco-friendly construction form that can utilize materials sourced locally. It is suitable for building load-bearing walls and therefore needs no wooden, steel or concrete framework. An earthen home uses 60 per cent less timber than a typical home with a wooden frame. Subsoil is also very plentiful, everywhere on the planet, right under the topsoil, so it doesn’t need to be transported long distances. You don't need to burn fossil fuels and create pollution to make this stuff. The materials are so abundantly available that it offers the promise of being able to build a home without having to borrow money. It's easy to maintain which makes it really durable - houses built this way centuries ago continue to be lived in today. The longest continuously inhabited dwellings on Earth are built this way, including the 2,000 year old city of Djenne in Mali and the 1,000 year old Pueblo Native American village of New Mexico. And there are equivalents in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and South America. (such durability makes the savings in materials and fossil fuels ongoing in an exponential way)

 

With a passive solar design and correct positioning, the thermal mass can store the winter sun's warmth in the walls and slowly release that warmth during the night and visa-versa - it can store the coolness of the night in the summer which slowly releases during the day. Masonry doesn’t catch on fire so it can reduce the need for fire-trucks and noise pollution from sirens. Earth is a naturally breathing building material that maintains background humidity and is therefore less prone to mold and damage from dampness.

 

Sculptural and architectural features can be made into whatever shape one wishes. This allows for interesting, natural, aesthetically pleasing, rounded shapes to be created. Unfired earth is such a highly versatile material: different mixes can be utilized to create walls, furniture, appliances, plasters, paints, polished floors and beautiful looking wall features. One material fits all.

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The Cons: Downside of building with earth: Building a house with unfired earthen masonry or any masonry (fired masonry, stone, concrete) without a passive solar design and good positioning will store the cold from the night and winter in your walls, throughout the day making it continuously cold. If you don't have large overhanging eaves on your roof, unfired earthen masonry can be effected by driving rains. Building with earth can be slow, especially if you include the time for excavating and soaking the earth. You have to wait a day for each layer to dry before the next layer is added.  If you don’t make it into a fun, community activity involving lots of willing participants who value it as a desirable activity, then it's considered a very labor intensive process, which makes it cost prohibitive, because you either won't be able to afford the time (off work) or the money (to pay someone) to do it. One or two people building a large or average sized house will tire easily. Romantic pioneers beware! Building is seasonal: it's more suitable to build during warm weather.