Buildings and housing

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There is one timeless way of building. It is thousands of years old, and the same today as it has always been. The great traditional buildings of the past, the villages and tents and temples in which man feels at home, have always been made by people who were very close to the center of this way. It is not possible to make great towns, beautiful places, places where you feel yourself, places where you feel alive, except by following this way. And, as you will see, this way will lead anyone who looks for it to buildings which are themselves as ancient in their form, as the trees and hills, and as our faces are. -- Christopher Alexander, from The Timeless Way of Building .

Don't force it: An architect built a cluster of office buildings around a central green. When construction was completed, the landscape crew asked him where he wanted the sidewalks. "Just plant the grass solidly between the buildings," was his reply. By late summer the new lawn was laced with paths of trodden grass between the buildings. These paths turned in easy curves and were sized according to traffic flow. In the fall, the architect simply paved the paths. Not only did the paths have a design beauty, they responded directly to user needs. -- Creative Whack Pack by Roger von Oech.

Materials and techniques

  • Cob is a technique for making earthen walls.
  • Grancrete is a spray-on ceramic concrete-like substance that is obtained locally from soil and ash. Although styrofoam is often used as the armature upon which the mixture is applied, local organic fibers can also be used.
  • Papercrete uses waste paper as the aggregate for a concrete material.
  • Straw bale is known for its high insulating value.

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