When Project Somos initiated its first earthbag construction in Guatemala, our workers were not convinced it was a reliable construction technique. As much as our research and studies showed, it was more than viable, it was superb, but no amount of words would ever ever convince our young crew that it would be better than the shaky block construction widely used here.
As the first building’s foundation was laid and the earthbag walls rose from the ground, the crew became warmer to the solidity of what they were building. The walls surrounded the window forms and we arrived at the Roman Arches. The workers filled the individual bags for the arches and the walls then covered them. The moment came to remove the wooden forms from the arches. None of the workers wanted to watch, as they did not believe these arches could bear the weight of the walls above them. But…. they did and the mood turned festive, as if a miracle had taken place.
Currently we are working on earthbag domes. Again, when our fearless workers saw the design and the walls began to rise, they were not convinced it was a design with structural integrity. Initially, the first 3 meters of wall is fairly vertical, but after that the curved inclination is more pronounces and after four meters it really becomes the dome. From the outside, it looks reasonable, from the inside, it looks somewhat intimidating with all the earth-filled bags hanging over one’s head.
One of the domes is now complete with the upper window installed and the exterior stucco applied. Our workers are now staunch supporters of earthbag dome construction, having filled the last bags at the top. They experienced the stability even at the most horizontal part at the last level.
Our Somos crew have become experts at this type of construction and have witnessed the “miracle” of applied physics. Whatever perspective one might have, it is definitely an impressive building technique that has a spectrum of benefits. We all are learning as we go and everyone is continually amazed at the progress and the innovation. Simplicity is awesome!