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Natural Building includes a variety of building techniques that focus on creating sustainable buildings which minimize their negative ecological impact. Natural Buildings often rely on non-industrial, minimally processed, locally available, and renewable materials and can also utilize a variety of recycled materials.
It ideally incorporates sustainable design practices to integrate the building into its environment. Natural Building may also integrate electricity production, water catchment, passive heating and cooling, and alternative waste-treatment.
Materials, Techniques & Technologies
There are many Natural Building technologies in the world that are adaptable to the many climates and bio regions. Most of them rely on a few basic materials: earth, wood, and straw (where straw can be loosely defined to include any dried non-woody plant material such as palm fronds, reeds, etc.). Depending on the climate these materials can be combined in any number of ways to make a natural home.
The image gallery shows Arco Iris, a farm house in Belize, where we used the following natural and alternative building technologies:
Light-Straw and clay, also called clay-slip straw, clay is mixed with water until it is the consistency of paint and then is mixed with straw until every straw fiber is coated. The Straw-clay is then packed between a wooden frame construction.
Cob is a mixture of straw, clay, and sand similar to adobe but lumps of cob are applied wet to build up a wall, bench, or as thermal mass around stoves. It can easily be shaped into any form.
Straw-bale construction is a building method that uses bales of straw as structural elements, building insulation or both.
Earth bag: earth can be packed into polypropylene bags that are stacked to build a wall. The bags are then plastered over to protect them from UV degradation.
Timber Framing - Timber framing is an old natural building technology which uses heavy timbers and joins them. A timber frame wall can then be filled in with straw bale, light-clay straw, cob, or any number of materials.
Thatch - Thatch is commonly used in Belize for roofing.
Natural Earth Plaster and Lime Plaster - Most of the above techniques are finished off with a natural plaster. Earthen plaster is made from clay, sand, and straw (or sometimes other fibers such as manure). Lime plaster is made with sand, hydrated lime, and sometimes fiber (straw, animal hair, etc.). Lime is made by heating limestone in a kiln and has been used since ancient times. Lime plaster is much more weather proof than earth plaster.
In this house a Aquatron Compost toilet system is used.
EFTEC company is the exclusive Dealer of Aquatron Systems in Belize.
Tobias Sengfelder is member of NBN (Natural building network)