Dr. Sunny Cai, an architect and Associate Professor at the University of Science and Technology in Beijing sent me news of his most recent earthbag work. It’s interesting to note his Ph.D. is in Historic Chinese Earth Architecture.
“To be a designer and professor in university for architectural class teaching, I always advocate low carbon emission, less transportation and avoid any extra pollution for our building. These are my main principles for planning a building. Also I expect my students, who will be the architects in the future, will do the same way for their plans.
After the ecovillage of earthbag construction in Uganda, I started to consider how to improve the whole thing to be more effective, feasible and energy saving. I tried to find some natural materials for replacement of modern and polluting ones. The significant discovery is by using inorganic transmit system that is able to provide the warm and cool from the deep earth, and this method can solve most problems of earthbag building that I have to face in northern China. Most earthbag building might be wildly used in suburbs or areas where electricity is quite deficient. Fortunately I found one producer agree to provide this system and relating assistance. Moreover I also experimented with some natural materials which were recorded in Chinese ancient book regarding some traditional way which seems quite suited to my ideals of environmental protection.
The plan in my blog is for an ecological vacation village. All the buildings will be constructed by earthbags, including the buttressed rectangular building.
Generally to say, good part is more and more people notice and identify our effort for ecological event, and bad part is my work still very hard to go ahead because lacking of approving of architectural laws and government’s support! I still am an isolated pioneer in this field in China! Hopefully this situation will be ameliorated in the future.”
Dr. Sunny Cai
6 thoughts on “Earthbag Eco-village in Beijing”
My girlfriend and I have recently moved to Beijing to teach English, the goal is to save enough money to build a cob home when we move back. I was wondering if you provide any lectures or workshops on natural building here in Beijing? We bought an amazing book called The Hand-Sculpted House by Ianto Evans, but it would be brilliant to talk to someone who has proper knowledge in the field.
Thank you for your time!
The best way to learn is to practice on a small project such as a tool shed. The principles are very simple. You just need a bit of practice on a small project before tackling something larger. You’ll be fine. Just jump right in. I’m in India now and don’t have time to go to China.
hey my name is chad. ive lived in japan 4 years, i will make my first english school in china, im not sure if i will build it, but i will definitely be interested in meeting you in beijing, and working with earthbag technology to make homes, and infrastructure. my current ideas, are related to not using any utilities, and reducing building cost down to the minimum. I enjoyed the eco-dome, and the round building. all very interesting. one thing though, if you dig down, you dont have to build walls up. this could save time, im not sure, what do you think? the next is with mothership design, they collect rainwater, and utilize it in 4 areas of the home, shower, drinking, plant feeding, and exterior. all water is recycled.
Digging down can be effective in hot, dry climates. It can easily lead to moisture problems if there are flash floods, etc. Be careful. I prefer to build on high ground and berm earth around the house about 2′ high.
I am the editor of ANZA magazine, a newly established East African Architectural magazine. We are currently working on our fourth issue which bares the theme title “From the ground up”. The issue focuses on Construction in East africa.
We found the earthbag project done by Dr. Sunny Cai and we would like to feature his project in this issue. Unfortunately we cannot find his details. Would you be kind and avail us with his contact so we can give credit to him and make him aware of this.
Looking forward to your response.
I just forwarded your message to Kelly Hart who has his contact info.