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Adobe

Adobe is one of the oldest building materials in use. It is basically just dirt that has been moistened with water, sometimes with chopped straw or other fibers added for strength, and then allowed to dry in the desired shape. Commonly adobe is shaped into uniform blocks that can be stacked like bricks to form walls, but it can also be simply piled up over time to create a structure. The best adobe soil will have between 15% and 30% clay in it to bind the material together, with the rest being mostly sand or larger aggregate. Too much clay will shrink and crack excessively; too little will allow fragmentation. Sometimes adobe is stabilized with a small amount of cement or asphalt emulsion added to keep it intact where it will be subject to excessive weather. Adobe blocks can be formed either by pouring it into molds and allowing it to dry, or it can pressed into blocks with a hydraulic or leverage press. Adobe can also be used for floors that have resilience and beauty, colored with a thin slip of clay and polished with natural oil.

Adobe buildings that have substantial eaves to protect the walls and foundations to keep the adobe off the ground will require less maintenance than if the walls are left unprotected. Some adobe buildings have been plastered with Portland cement on the outside in an attempt to protect the adobe, but this practice has led to failures when moisture finds a way through a crack in the cement and then can't readily evaporate. When adobe is used as an exterior plaster it is either stabilized or replastered on a regular basis.

Adobe is a good thermal mass material, holding heat and cool well. It does not insulate very well, so walls made of adobe need some means of providing insulation to maintain comfort in the building. Sometimes this is accomplished by creating a double wall, with an air space, or some other insulation in between. Another approach is placing insulating materials on the outside.

RESOURCES

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BOOKS & DVDs

WATCH VIDEOS

PLANS

ARTICLES:

THE BEAUTY OF MUD AND STRAW

ADOBE:
A PRESENT FROM THE PAST

A Review of
Adobe Homes for All Climates

TRADITIONAL ADOBE IN IRAN

ADOBE WINDMILLS IN IRAN

ADOBE POSTERS

EXPERT ADVICE

with Quentin Wilson



What is Adobe?
Localities where Adobe Works
Appropriate Mixes for Adobe
Ways to Make Adobe Bricks
Foundations for Adobe
Laying the Adobes
Roofs on Adobe Homes
Adobe as Plaster
Adobe Floors
Structural Concerns

Appearance of Adobe
Mass and Insulation
Education
Miscellaneous

INFORMATIVE LINKS

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BOOKS & DVD's

 
 
 
Click on image to buy from Customflix.com
 

A Sampler of Alternative Homes: Approaching Sustainable Architecture . This two-hour DVD, produced by Kelly Hart, provides an overview of sustainable building concepts. You can enjoy a look at a fascinating variety of homes and the creative people who built them! Discover how passive solar design and environmentally low-impact materials can be used to create comfortable and economical homes. See the use of both traditional materials, such as adobe, and innovative materials, such as papercrete and earthbags.

This program offers a wealth of information about construction details and other considerations. It covers adobe block construction, piled adobe (similar to cob), rammed earth, both load-bearing and post and beam strawbale, earthships, earth-sheltering, cordwood, thin-shelled concrete domes, papercrete, earthbags, hybrid structures, and recycling various containers for housing. To watch a streaming video introduction to this program, click here.
$29.95

BuyDVD

For a VHS videotape of this program go to the STORE.

 

Earthen Floors:
A Modern Approach
to an Ancient Practice

by Sukita Reay Crimmel
& James Thomson, 2014

 
 
 
Click on image for more information
 

Adobe:
Homes and Interiors of Taos, Santa Fe, and the Southwest

by
Sandra Seth and Laurel Seth, 2012

 
 
 

Spanish Colonial or Adobe Architecture of California: 1800-1850
by
Donald R. Hannaford and Revel Edwards, 2012

   

Earth Masonry:
Design and Construction Guidelines

by Tom Morton, 2010

   

Adobe Homes for All Climates:
Simple, Affordable, and Earthquake-Resistant Natural Building Techniques

by Lisa Schroder, Vince Ogletree, 2010

A review of this book

 
 
 
Click on image for more information
 

The Cheap-Ass Curmudgeon's Guide to Dirt:
Hand-Building with Adobe, Papercrete, Paper-Adobe,
and More

by Michael Van Hall, 2009

 
 
 
Click on image for more information
 

The Complete Guide to Alternative Home Building materials & Methods
by Jon Nunan, 2009

   

The New Adobe Home
by Michael Byrne and Dottie Larson, 2009

   

Adobe Houses for Today: Flexible Plans for Your Adobe Home
by Laura Sanchez, Alex Sanchez, 2008

 
 

Earth Architecture
by Ronald Rael, 2008

   

Build Your Own Earth Oven 
by Kiko Denzer and Hannah Field, 2007

 
 
 
Click on image for more information
 

Simone Swan:
Adobe Building
by Dennis Dollens, 2006

 
 

Adobe Conservation
by Cornerstones Staff, 2006

   

 

Building with Earth: Design and Technology of a Sustainable Architecture
by Gernot Minke, 2006

 
 

The Good House Book :
A Common-Sense Guide to Alternative Homebuilding

by Clarke Snell, 2004

 
 

Butabu :
Adobe Architecture of West Africa
by James Morris , Suzanne Preston Blier, 2003

 
 

Adobe Details
by Karen Witynski, Joe P. Carr, 2002

 
 

 

Adobe Houses for Today: Flexible Plans for Your Adobe Home
by Laura Sanchez, Alex Sanchez, 2001

 
 

Casa Adobe
by Karen Witynski, Joe P. Carr, 2001

 
 

The Owner-Built Adobe House
by Duane Newcomb, 2001

 
 

The Small Adobe House
by Agnesa Reeve, R. Reck, 2001

 
 

Earth Construction Handbook:
| The Building Material Earth in Modern Architecture

by Gernot Minke, 2000

 
 

The Adobe Story:
A Global Treasure

by Paul Graham McHenry, 2000

   

The Adobe Book
by John F. O'Connor, 1999

 
 

Pueblo Architecture and Modern Adobes:
The Residential Designs
of William Lumpkins

by Joseph Traugott, William T. Lumpkins, 1998

 
 

Adobe and Rammed Earth Buildings:
Design and Construction

by Paul Graham McHenry, 1997

   

 

Architecture for People:
The Complete Works of Hassan Fathy

by James Steele, 1997

   

 

Back to Earth: Adobe Building in Saudi Arabia
by William Facey, 1997

 
 

Behind Adobe Walls:
The Hidden Homes and Gardens of Santa Fe
and Taos

by Lisl Dennis, 1997

 
 

Ceramic Houses and Earth Architecture:
How to Build Your Own

by Nader Khalili, 1996

   

Adobe:
Building and Living With Earth

by Orlando Romero , David Larkin, 1994

   

 

Build With Adobe
by Marcia Southwick, 1994

 
 

Spectacular Vernacular :
The Adobe Tradition

by Jean-Louis Bourgeois, 1990

   

Adobe Architecture
by Myrtle Stedman, 1987

 
 

Adobe: Remodeling & Fireplaces
by Myrtle Stedman, 1986

 
 

LA Casa Adobe
by William Lumpkins, 1986

 
 

 

Adobe : Build It Yourself
by Paul Graham McHenry, 1985

   
 
Click on image for more information
 

Ageless Adobe:
History and Preservation in Southwestern Architecture

by Jerome Iowa, 1985

   
   
 
Click on image to buy from Dirtcheapbuilder
 
Cinva Ram Plans Taylor Publishing offers an 11 page design-set of plans for making a CEB compressed earth block press ...aka Cinva Ram. (used by FernCo Metal to make the unit shown here. Design based on engineered specifications for manual earth block press is provided. Press was developed and engineered in third world countries for manual use. Welding of parts is recommended as part of assembly, and mechanical expertise is necessary to build these block presses. Xerographic, 40+ pages total information, sold "as is" as received from my resources. This means the plans are shown in mm, not inches, and you need a CAD or other program to convert; no lengthy assembly description is given. Booklet #535 Building with Adobe & Stabilized-Earth Blocks, and #1720 Adobe & Sun Dried Bricks booklet are included.

 

ADOBE POSTERS AND ART PRINTS

There is a distinctive mood and flavor to Southwest American art that reflects bright sunshine on cool adobe walls, with a peacefulness and relaxation that is hard to come by these days. These lovely artistic posters can bring this peaceful relaxation into your home.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


PLANS

Santa Fe I
Sven Alstrom , Designer

This one story Santa Fe Style ranch home has an attached two car garage and is based upon 24 inch wide straw bale (or adobe) construction on a concrete block foundation & concrete spread footings with crawl spaces and a partial basement. Though not designed as a passive solar house, it is designed for primarily hot weather climates. Natural interior plaster and natural exterior stucco are recommended. The interior square footage of the house portion is 2,336 square feet, measured on the inside of walls. In addition, the garage has 20 x 22 ft. clear inside dimensions. This home was originally designed for the main entrance to face east so that the kitchen is southeast for ‘ayurvedic' benefits – the plan also works well with the garage on the north side or by ‘flipping' the plan with the bedrooms on the south.

For more information about this plan, and many others, visit our sister site www.dreamgreenhomes.com, where you will find a wide range of plans for sustainable homes, greenhouses, small buildings, garages, and food storage space for sale. Dream Green Homes is a consortium of outstanding architects and designers, who have pooled their talent and expertise for your benefit.

 

LINKS

earthbuilding.com Earth Building Foundation's informative site.

adobebuilder.com Adobe Builder Magazine offers media, classes and information about adobe and rammed earth.

adobealliance.org Simone Swan's Adobe Alliance promotes earthen architecture, especially that inspired by the work of Hassan Fathy, through information and workshops.

naturalbuilder.com books and workshops about earthen building.

naturalhomes.org lists workshops from around the world related to adobe building.

earth-auroville.com Auroville in India has been working with various aspects of earthen architecture and has much to share.

eartharchitecture.org features information and sponsors workshops on all types of earth building.

davidsheen.com features a wonderful collection of pictures of earthen sturctures from around the world. (If Firefox doesn't work, try another browser.)

mudcrafters.com specializes in adobe floors and earthen plasters, with lots of pictures and descriptions.

fawebster.com Fred Webster Associates has posted some excellent articles on adobe codes, structural defects, and earthquake damage to historic buildings.

historychannel.com An article about adobe homes, with a link to sod homes as well.

claymineadobe.com a commercial stabilized adobe brick manufacturer with references for archtiects, schools, etc.

theownerbuilder.com.au an article about a "muddie" or adobe block home in Australia.

terrabuilt.com manufacturer of a compressed earthen brick machine that has a key/lock system eliminating the need for mortar.

loeileelawadee.com making adobes Thai style.

adobebuilding.com describes a unique system for molding stabilized adobe bricks...they also occasionally sponsor workshops.

openfarmtech.org Open Source Ecology shows how their compressed earth block machine operates.

beyondadobe.com features a nice gallery of photos of adobe projects they have built in the Southwest U.S.

lavoutenubienne.org describes an African adaptation of adobe vaulted roof structures.

sukita.com an image gallery of adobe floors

StrawBaleHomeForSale.com - a complete photo gallery of adobe and strawbale construction plus a great video tour of this Oregon property.

ecoyogavillages.org features a photo gallery of some amazing and beautiful adobe domes and such in South America.

iitk.ac.in/nicee this PDF document describes a simple, inexpensive method of reinforcing adobe buildings with plastic mesh for earthquake resistance.

velacreations.com instructions for making stabilized compressed earth block floors.

jinriki.blogspot.com How to make a traditional Japanese tamped earth floor.

docs.google.com is an Interlocking Soil/Cement  Compressed Earth Block Feasibility Study

 

Disclaimer Of Liability And Warranty
I specifically disclaim any warranty, either expressed or implied, concerning the information on these pages. Neither I nor any of the advisor/consultants associated with this site will have liability for loss, damage, or injury, resulting from the use of any information found on this, or any other page at this site. Kelly Hart, Hartworks, Inc.

 

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