Hoogle Poogle Gypsys Oh!

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Our style of building:


So, after many years learning about most of the techniques of modern alternative building, I still am not satisfied. They seem so artificial, so human constructed, so basically unnatural. And then one day I stumbled on a truly organic building. While driving up from Globe headed to Flagstaff, we chanced to take a break and check out the cliff dwellings there. And then it all made sense.

The way those structures have been built, they havn't been designed or engineered so much as grown.

I just started thinking, how would this have been built, why did the people who built this choose to construct in in this manner?

This reminds me of a story, about cordwood building actually, but it applies to most all organic building. It goes back to when people first discovered fire, and then soon realized that it was advantageous to have a large supply of dry wood gathered and stacked close to the fire. Naturally as the wood accumulated they made a wall around the fire, reflecting heat and providing protection from the wind and rain. Also, all the pointy ends of sticks pointing outwards was protection from attack by humans or animals, allowing them to sleep more soundly.

As the wall of wood got taller and taller, eventually it reached a point where throwing some long branches on top would make a roof, even more protection. It would naturally follow from there to thatch or shingle the roof, making it into a 'permanent' structure. In the same way, earthen construction probably began by seeking shelter under a ledge, in a natural depression, or next to an upturned trees roots. As time progressed rocks would be moved around to provide more protection, earth chinked into them to keep the wind out, and when the walls were tall enough it would be a natural progression to throw branches and thatch over the top.

Notice that nowhere in either of these stories does it mention anything about thinking or planning or any such things.


So you see, building does not have to be complicated.

If it is complicated, it is only because humans have made it so and not because it is inherent in the act of building.


So, knowing this, I went out to the desert with the intention of building a structure with whatever was on hand. As the ground was dry at the time I did this, I thought to build it out of rocks. And for rafters I needed large and straight enough downed trees around within hauling distance. After walking all over I found the spot.

The tools I used were: an axe, a bow saw, a Maddox, and a shovel.

I know that a primitive person would not have had these steel tools, especially the saw, but I am fond of steel tools and I feel like a very lucky and privileged primitive person. After a couple of days the site was leveled, rocks moved into a low wall, and tree trunk rafters were up on posts and a beam. Thats when it started raining, so I threw a canvas tarp over everything and spent a couple of days in it while the rain fell, giving my blistered and bruised hands a rest.

Walking around on the moist ground I suddenly realized that here was another building material, just lying around, under my feet and suddenly usable!

Without water I hadn't thought of using earth, and now it was turned naturally into mud.


So that was how I got into rammed earth construction, just using what was available when it was available, and not trying to force things to be what they are not.