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Posts Tagged ‘disaster resistant’

HNC Earthbag House (click to enlarge)

HNC Earthbag House (click to enlarge)


“The Haitian National Congress (HNC) asked me to conduct training next May for bright and eager Haitian adult citizens who want to become entrepreneurs, nudge their country more toward functional democracy, learn problem solving skills and learn free enterprise practices that will increase their personal income. These trainees will then return to each of Haiti’s 10 departments to teach others about developing cottage businesses, managing money, establishing new markets, increasing vegetable production and more.

Haiti needs more housing stock. For the individual Haitian, owning a home and building equity in it is a way to better oneself financially. HNC is working with folks who have minimal income. HNC encourages them to build wealth which helps the country build a stronger economy. That leads to more jobs, more children getting educated, better health care, etc. To have value in the housing market, they need a house that is modern (plumbing and electricity), durable (earthquake and hurricane resistant) and of course, affordable. With a modern and durable house as collateral you can borrow money to start a small business. Lack of access to capital is a major barrier in the third world to individuals lifting themselves out of poverty. Earthbag houses are perfect. Hands on learning how to build an earthbag house will be an important part of the HNC training. The trainees will learn, and they will in turn train others in earthbag building. Modifications can be made in the field in response to local feedback.

Dr. Owen Geiger took my basic ideas, enhanced them greatly and developed an attractive plan. It is a durable and leak proof ‘core house’ with a multipurpose room (kitchen and living room), bathroom and bedroom. There is a covered, raised, and railed front porch for Haitian style outdoor living and for social gathering. Also, Dr. Geiger designed the walls a bit higher than 8’, dropped the ceiling slightly and put two ladder accessible lofts above. There are covered porches around the entire house that can serve as outdoor cooking, food preparation and work areas. They can also be easily converted into additional rooms. HNC and I are happy with this earthbag house plan that offers so much flexibility. The owners will have several options for sleeping, storage and work areas. While the disaster resistant core house remains the same, the lofts and porches allow each family to set up the house just the way they like it in order to meet their specific needs.”

HNC Earthbag House floorplan (click to enlarge)

HNC Earthbag House floorplan (click to enlarge)


Specifications: 288 sq. ft. interior, 274 sq. ft. loft, one bedroom, one bath, covered porch area: 903 sq. ft., footprint: 31’x43’

Source: Dr. Jerry Epps Teach Democracy
HNC House website with free plans coming soon

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Earthbag Castle (click to enlarge)

Earthbag Castle (click to enlarge)


My goal with this project has been twofold: 1. showcase individual designs (which included some designs that have been on the drawing board for months), and 2. combine them into a self sustaining, fortified homestead, where a group of 5-20 people could weather economic and social upheaval. It is not designed to withstand a direct missile or tank attack by governments, or total nuclear Armageddon. All bets are off if things get that bad. But the 10’ high by 3’ thick walls (at the base) should go a long way toward deterring attackers if things do unravel. Anyway, this has been an interesting project and I’m glad to see the high page rankings. It’s definitely been a lot of work.

Earthbag Castle summary:
– The castle consists of four structures – Custom Chonburi main residence, Two-story Roundhouse Above Survival Shelter guesthouse/office, Carriage House with second floor garage apartment, Guard Tower tool shed.
– All structures include a waterproof roof deck with ladder access and crenellations capped with cement or geopolymer
– All structures are also available with more standard roof designs at no extra charge (example: trussed gable roofs).
– Renewable energy systems not shown, but there is ample roof space for solar panels, solar water heaters and wind generators
– Due to a lack of protective roof overhangs, this castle is best suited to dry climates, although a reader pointed out how similar castles have stood the test of time in European climates.
– All plans can be modified for a modest fee. Just email me at strawhouses [at] yahoo.com.

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Disaster-resistant hemispheric dome made with double ferrocement shells with insulating fill (click to enlarge)

Disaster-resistant hemispheric dome made with double ferrocement shells with insulating fill (click to enlarge)


This 20′ interior diameter, 314 sq. ft. design is my proposed solution for houses that need to withstand repeat hurricanes. See How to Build the Strongest Buildings That Can Last Centuries for more details. Features include: lexan windows with removable window and door shutters, monolithic geopolymer slab floor that’s integrated with the walls, build on high ground, plastic mesh that won’t rust, geopolymer plaster both sides, geopolymer pumicecrete or geopolymer perlite fill. Integrating the slab and dome and building on a rubble trench is ideal for seismic zones. In an earthquake, the building would slide back and forth somewhat like an upside down cereal bowl on a kitchen table (meaning the whole house remains intact as one shell).

The design will have to be tweaked for individual homeowner needs, and some details worked out with the engineer. Note how a woodstove is shown to reach a wider audience, even though it’s probably not needed in Florida. The woodstove could be replaced with an emergency water storage and filtration system, etc. A fold-out bed saves space. Please email me and we’ll work out the details to fit your needs.

Disaster-resistant hemispheric dome made with double ferrocement shells with insulating fill (click to enlarge)

Disaster-resistant hemispheric dome made with double ferrocement shells with insulating fill (click to enlarge)

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