300 earthbag homes for ‘Yolanda’ survivors to rise in Coron, Palawan — 8 Comments

    • No, I was just investigating the situation while traveling through. It’s well worth the trip. For one, it’s a tropical tourist paradise that’s very popular with tourists. The amazing village that’s being built is just a short ride across the bay. The boats leave next to the best restaurant in town (at that time). You can track down a guide and translator for $20 or so. The ‘airport’ is like a giant cow pasture.

  1. Hi, I’m interested in finding out what bags are used here, the gusseted earth-bags seem to create a more uniform and flat surface, and patterned wall, as opposed to bags with rounded edges. Do they use a mold to fill the bags or are the bags designed to fill out in a rectangular shape? If so I would appreciate any info on where to purchase these particular bags, or instructions on how to make them this way.

    • They bought custom ordered bags. Sorry, I don’t know the name of their supplier.

      They make and tamp the bags in a wood form on the ground then lift into place. It’s not the most efficient method, but the final result is perfectly straight, flat walls.

      You can sew your own gusseted bags with a handheld sewing machine like this:

      You could make the gusseted bags on the ground and fill the bags on the wall on top of earthbag sliders. This would take less labor and still create excellent results.

  2. Hi Dr. Geiger and Kelly,

    Eric Leach and I emailed with you a few month back and since then have finished one earthbag house in northern Leyte. I’ll be traveling there later this week. There are rumors that some business people in the Philippines are investing a lot of money in engineering earthbag designs to popularize it and using it for residential buildings. We are working with the Stargrass Coalition to build 250 earthbag houses in Leyte and Samar by Nov. 2015. I want to translate and print a very simple earthbag building guide for local people with lots of pictures. What would you recommend considering your global experience? I don’t want to have to reinvent the wheel. I’ve purchased both of your books and I don’t want to have to rewrite them for the local context if I can avoid that. :)

  3. There are other advantages to filling and tamping earthbags directly on the walls.

    – It’s easier to keep each course level as you build. It’s not difficult to keep each course within 1/4″ or 6mm of level on small homes like this. Simply tape 1m spirit level to a long, straight board and move it around to check level.
    – The walls will be more stable as you build. Pre-dried earthbags stacked on top of each other will be a little wobbly because they’re not perfectly flat. Obviously if you’re walking and working on top of the wall then you want stable walls.
    -They might be using scaffolding. Scaffolding is not needed if the bags are filled and tamped on the walls. One or two ladders will suffice.
    – You can tamp the interior and exterior wall surfaces to reduce plaster work. Don’t try to get them perfectly flat. Mostly tamp the high spots to make the walls straighter.
    – Rebar pins will add a lot of extra strength. You can drive 1/2″ rebar pins through freshly tamped earthbags. I highly recommend using rebar like this in disaster prone areas. Corners, doorways and windows are most important to reinforce.

  4. I would love to learn more about this project. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find anything on the Tamayo Foundation.

    The photo is small and low resolution, and few construction details are given but I’ll offer a few comments. At first I thought they are ramming the earthbags in a form to make them uniform in size. Closer examination shows the earthbags are irregular, so forms are not being used. This means there will be irregular gaps between bags. It’s far stronger to tamp the bags on the wall so they mold themselves around each other and create some interlocking. This also embeds the barbed wire in the bags and soil.

    It’s more efficient to build the earthbags directly on the wall. It takes extra work to make the earthbags on the ground, dry them and then lift and position them on the wall. It’s easier to lift small buckets of soil up on the wall than to lift heavy earthbags.

    The method they’re using will create excessive gaps that require extra plaster and labor. A good plasterer can fill the gaps and still create a very strong wall. However, well proven standard earthbag building methods are stronger, faster and easier. Here’s one free step-by-step Instructable:

    I don’t understand the part about the corrugated steel. Is it used as temporary bracing or permanent siding?

    150,000P = $3,428

    Please contact me if you have more information on this project.
    Owen Geiger at naturalhouses [AT]

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