Earthbag is an affordable and earthquake safe building method for Nepal, says Animal Nepal. The animal welfare agency was pleasantly surprised when its earthbag/adobe shelter did not sustain a single crack during the earthquakes that hit Nepal in April and May.
The concept behind the eco-friendly shelter was to offer an alternative to using ‘blood bricks‘, because of the inhumane situations in the brick industry. Coordinated by programme manager Suraj Thapa, overseer Norbu Kalden and engineering student Stefan Klaseboer, the building was constructed using the earthbag and adobe technique. Read a detailed report on the construction of this unique shelter by Stefan Klaseboer here.
Earthbags are what it says: ‘bags filled with earth’. To be more specific, we used recycled 50 kg cement-bags which we filled with earth. When adding them on the wall we tamped them into a kind of brick shaped bag. For extra solidity we used barbed wire, connecting each row of bags. For the lower part of the wall we created extra durable earthbags by adding 10% cement to the mix. This will prevent water from entering the walls.
Although the earth bag walls look interesting, we decided to plaster the walls for a natural look and for extra protection. The bags will deteriorate slowly when exposed to UV-radiation. The mud plaster is a mix of sand, cow dung, straw and rice husk. Before applying it we invited groups of local students to mix the ingredients well using their bare feet. To make sure the plaster will stick probably to the wall, we have used a thin chicken wire mesh on the bags. Together with the straw it will act as an reinforcement.
The roof is an metal roof which is self-bearing. That means that the roof is able to hold its own weight without support from the walls. We have chosen for this concept, because the natural walls need adequate protection from the rain.
The building has lived up to all expectations. Animal Nepal promotes earthbags as a safe and sustainable building method in Nepal.