Magnesium Cement for Roofs and Plaster

There is a whole class of cement that was very popular in the days before the invention and manufacture of Portland cement quickly replaced its use. Generally classified as magnesium-based cement, this material was used in historic times in Europe, India, and China, among other countries.  It is unfortunate that Portland cement has replaced the … Read more

Building a Glorieta

Many of you may have wondered what the structure shown in our masthead is.  These images are of a Glorieta that is a sort of glorified gazebo that  emerged directly from the soil surrounding it.  This was created as part of  a conference about sustainability, held in Crestone, Colorado in 2003, attended by youth from … 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

Alternative Bond Beams and Lintels for Straight, Vertical Walls

How do you keep a high vertical earthbag wall that is straight from toppling over? This is always a concern when designing and building standard rectilinear buildings with earthbags. The conventional solution generally relies on periodic buttresses and/or heavy-duty reinforced concrete bond beams at the top of the wall. I have come up with a … Read more