CalEarth’s Prototype for Haiti

The current newsletter from CalEarth describes how they have been designing an earthbag shelter/home prototype for use in Haiti.  This structure, consisting of a 10 ft. main dome surrounded by 3 apses (a 7 ft. sleeping apse, a 5 ft. fire cooking apse with storage below, and a 5 ft. apse that can be used … Read more

Earthbag Structures for Disaster-Prone Areas

Ever since the earthquake in Haiti we have been inundated with requests for information about using earthbags for reconstruction efforts. Owen Geiger and I have joined with Patti Stouter to assemble a coherent response to this need that is based on our understanding of the strengths and weaknesses of earthbag building, coupled with some knowledge … Read more

Cylindrical Earthbag Shelters

Here’s a great shelter design by Delani that was posted at Core 77 as part of a recent shelter competition. Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest, and this design is exquisite because of its simplicity. That means it’s inexpensive and easy to build. And no doubt about it, it will work structurally. (However, it … Read more

Roofing Hold-downs

Here’s a simple way to help prevent metal roofing from being blown away. Roofs are typically quite vulnerable to uplift in windy areas. There are commercially available roof hold-downs that bolt trusses and rafters to walls, but I’ve never seen the system described here. It was inspired by hearing all the stories about metal roofing … Read more

Responding to Catastrophe

The internet has been vibrating along with the earth since the great quake in Haiti, and I have received quite  a few emails responding to this catastrophe, often with suggestions about ways to assist the Haitians. I’ll quote from one particularly thoughtful response: “I would like for you and your colleagues together to present our … Read more

How Long Will Earthbags Hold Up in Sunlight?

It’s difficult to know for sure how long earthbags will hold up in sunlight. Some brands fall apart pretty fast, as soon as a few weeks. Equatorial and high elevation areas may experience slightly more rapid deterioration due to increased UV levels. From my experience and what I have heard and read most bags hold … Read more