I have a house made of earth! I took the soil from beneath my feet, mixed it with water, straw, and sand, and turned it into building materials for a foundation, structural walls, insulation, finish plaster, and the floor. I also have a fireplace, interior walls, an outdoor oven, storage cubbies, bookshelves, and benches made with earth. I paint with earth, I sculpt with earth, I live with earth.

 

It's very empowering to learn these techniques. Suddenly you will be able to house yourself and create your own custom-built environment. It's not very hard either. If you can tie your shoes, bake a cake, and carry a small child, you can learn how to build with earth! You also have to be willing to get a little muddy, but that may just add to the appeal.

 

I often give tours of my house. Whenever people walk in for the first time, they always say one of three things: 

 

Wow!
I could live here!
This is beautiful!

 

Then they feel the walls with their hands. This happens every time. I think they are experiencing a deep sense of relief and a strong feeling of "homecoming." These feelings are associated with connection and belonging to nature, the earth, history, and people.

 

So what's the attraction?

 

  • The structures are beautiful. They make us feel like we are a part of nature. The absence of hard angles and dull flat surfaces makes the space feel alive. Without any need for gallery art, every section of a wall is lovely to look at.

  • The construction methods are easy to learn, fun to do, safe, and easy on your body. You don't need to be super strong or technical. Everyone can help, from kids to grandma!

  • The materials are free or very inexpensive. Gather them with care from your local area. There is no need to mine distant nations or clear-cut a forest.

  • Earth is safe to build with and safe to live in. There are no toxic glues, paints, vinyls, or other materials that off-gas. Your house does not have to make you sick!

  • It's simple to mix and match different earthen building techniques with each other as well as with conventional methods of building. Renovations become much easier. Recycled windows, doors, beams, etc. can be integrated seamlessly.

  • Besides the fact that you are working with local materials, these techniques are easy on the environment in four ways: (1) During the construction process there is very little need for energy input, and there is no waste. (2) Earthen buildings are very energy efficient and easy to maintain during the life of the building. (3) Because the material is so pleasant to be with and so easy to customize, earthen buildings can be design much smaller than those houses that are planning on using industrial materials. (4) When the life of a building is over, it can go back to the earth where it came from. 

  • Earthen buildings are very comfortable. They are quiet, the temperature fluctuations are gentle, and the humidity is moderated by the clay in the material. Earthen houses instill a feeling of peace and safety.

  • Working with earth, we feel connected to the mother of all construction materials. Humans have built continuously with earth for at least 8,000 years; it is still practiced today by about one quarter of the world’s population.

  • Building with earth has the potential to create a paradigm shift: from debt ridden to mortgage free, from unable to able, from sick to healthy, from feeling lonely to becoming part of a community, from lost to grounded.
     

Why build with earth?