(A standard morning class)
Beginning with renovating and reconfiguring the Pod House building we had a long list of jobs to complete before the 20 something year old structure could be upgraded enough to be livable for future Academy students. The pod house comprised of 3 rooms and a future kitchen area and the tasks we set out to do were as follows:
patch and re-render the often crumbling walls, install vent boxes, tar holes in the roof, build a cistern, dig out and build 2 'renegade septics', dig an ET bed for black water, install 4 grey water beds with plumbing, build 2 showers and 2 indoor toilets, patch and install timber roof beams, internal tiling for foyer, spakle and render ceiling, pour cement flooring in areas, replace glass on from fascia that were broken, cement roof channels for collecting water in tanks,
(the primary job site)
These jobs were on top of other side jobs which included building a ferro cement roof and greenhouse fascia for a secondary building (Anne's place), along with fixing up the internal adobe walls, and then there was 2 weeks repair work done up at R.E.A.C.H. We also built a glass bottle wall for the outside eating area after our temporary lunch area roofing blew away in some mighty winds in week 2 or 3.
These photos are sequences for two jobs; One septic, and one bottle wall. I'll try to talk through the processes of each job.
First up the hole was dug with a jackhammer and buckets to 8ft deep.
A channel was dug from the newly installed toilet to the hole and piping laid
A ferrocement dome was constructed from bended re-bar , metal lathe, chicken wire, flexible
wire cables and a wooden frame for the lid
EPDM rubber was laid in the hole, tires placed under the outpipe (laid on top of eachother), the
rest of the hole filled with large stones to filter the effluent as it seeps through the tyres
A cage was consructed around the pipe entrance to provide a window to the pipes (?)(lou, help!)
A seriously large ET Bed was dug, some of it using an excavator but most done by hand.
Thick (3mm) black plastic was laid down once the bed was dug and tamped, rocks were then
brought back in, followed by smaller rocks, then gravel and finally sand on top
Dome cemented over the septic and sealed.
The toughest part of the whole septic was definitely the ET bed, it took over 25 people a whole day to do the bed alone with minimal use of an excavator/digger. The building of the rebar/mesh domes for the lids of the septics were miniature versions of larger ferrocement domes we built later on, and which I worked on almost exclusively in a later project in Guatemala.
The next picture series is the first of many bottle walls completed..
Garden Area Bottle Wall
The can wall at the bottom of the picture was already in existence, seems like a semi-old can wall built to particition the 'garden'.
First we drilled into the concrete with a large heavy duty bit to secure the rebar poles, added mesh to keep it together and began to build up the bottle bricks
3/4 layers of cement is all that is really possible to build in one session before the cement starts to lose its rigidity under the weight. Hence these photos were taken over 3 days.
After the bottle wall reached the desired height and shape, the bottles were 'packed out' with cement and left to dry slightly before floated and the bottles cleaned before left to dry overnight
A final layer of cement patties was laid and levelled before PVC wood planks were laid to create a stable foundation for the cross beams
Many people write on our facebook page about their hesitations in beginning the building process on their own land or their worries about the minutae of skills required. IN truth, if we could already go and build our own homes out in the bush of Australia we probably already would be. I went to Taos to discover what it would take, in reality, to start building something at CERES in the immediate future and what I/we would need to do so. What I learnt from the academy was varied and crossed over multiple levels of self-development, self-awareness, and an undersatanding of what I still need to learn.
Stay tuned for more photos and discussions of the first earthship biotecture academy
Feel free to post any comments or suggestions - I am new to this blogging thing.