Workshops on Natural Building Techniques by Coearth Foundation

Mar 28, 2022

Coearth foundation, an NGO working in the field of ethnic and sustainable building construction technologies in harmony with the nature and environment, conducted a workshop on natural building techniques on 19, 20 March 2022.at Noor Lake, the bamboo park in Pachattiri, near Tirur, Malappuram district, Kerala. 

Coearth foundation, an NGO working in the field of ethnic and sustainable building construction technologies in harmony with the nature and environment, conducted a workshop on natural building techniques on 19, 20 March 2022. The workshop held at Noor Lake, the bamboo park located on the banks of River Tirur in Pachattiri, near Tirur, Malappuram district, Kerala was the second in its series, the first being held in the last week of February.  

These workshops aimed at providing hands on training in the construction methods of mud house was attended by around 70 professionals and students, all from the field of Civil engineering and architecture. With the two workshops they have almost finished the construction of a small hut using bamboo and mud. The main resource persons of these workshops were Mr Akhil Shajan , an architect from Thannal Natural Homes (TamilNadu), Mr. Moinudheen Afsel, Mr.Yaser and Mr. Rawoof, all from Coearth foundation. 

“We preferably use the soil from the same land where we construct the house and do some scientific testing , based on that we choose the technology. Also we add clay or sand to get the proper combination for a crack free strong wall”, says Yasir, the Civil Engineer from Coearth. “For roof we have options like tiles, hay, Palm leaves or split bamboo”, he added.

The training was given in natural building construction techniques especially with bamboo and mud. The structure of the walls is made in bamboo by weaving bamboo splits, and covers it completely with mud, a method of construction known as Wattle and Daub. The other ingredients mixed with the mud are shell lime powder, juice of Kadukka fruit (Botanical name: Terminalia chebula), jaggery, Neem and turmeric water, coir fibre, rice husk etc. which will give better bondage and termite resistance to the wall.

Another traditional method used in Kerala for the construction of mud wall is Cob technique. In this method the walls are made using the same compound of mud and other materials, rolled it into the shape of small balls and place directly to make the thick walls. In this workshop, a 2ft height seating to the bamboo walls are made in Cob technique.  

The third method of constructing a wall is Adobe. In this, small bricks are made using a mould with the same mixture of mud and dried in sunlight to construct the wall.  The workshop also provided training in the making of these bricks.

Coearth foundation was officially formed after the heavy floods of 2018 and 2019, but the concept for this organization was initiated in 2011 when a group of architects joined together to find a sustainable solution for the slums in Kerala. The main objective was to train and popularize the ethnic and sustainable building construction technologies, which suits the nature and environment, to the professionals and students in the field of civil construction. 

Moinudheen Afsel, the Chief Operating Officer of Coearth says “So far we have conducted many workshops across Kerala on subjects like terracotta, steel construction, interlock mud block, filler slab technology, shell lime, etc and the recent one was at Ela Community Centre , Kuttippuram where we constructed a mud wall based on Rammed Earth technology, a traditional method. This is also a place where anyone can visit.”

Now Coearth has around 150 plus members In Kerala and the group is involved in many projects that are socially relevant, like  renovation of colony in Kodiyathur panchayath of Kozhikode District, rehabilitation project for fisherman community in Ponnani, Malappuram District etc. 

Noor lake is a bamboo garden and community park owned and promoted by Mr. Noor Muhammed.  The organizers of the workshop are hopeful that this hut will be a specimen of mud house and people who visits the park can see and feel the specialities of traditional natural building techniques.

(Also visit www.coearthfoundation.org)

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