Teaching Adobe Building in High School

In an effort to preserve an ancient building technique, Vista Grande High School in Taos, New Mexico is working toward adobe certifications for students interested in learning this original Southwest building style.

Shop teacher Keaton Karvas (at left in the above photo) is engaging the students in his class with the finer points of adobe block building and they are getting hands-on experience in the field of adobe construction. He hopes they’ll soon be earning their certifications in adobe building through the Earthbuilders Guild.

“So far we have used compressed earth blocks, done adobe plastering and are currently building an addition to our structure that will be our metal shop,” Karvas said.

The adobe class at Vista Grande includes classroom work on the history of building with mud, as well as hands-on experience.

“I like just getting to be outside and working with earth,” said junior Felix Archuleta (at right in the above photo), “It just makes me feel more connected and I like the smell, too.”

Members of the Earthbuilders Guild are supervising the classes to ensure that the students are building as close to construction codes as possible, as well as giving pointers in adobe work when needed.

Students are currently working outside the wood shop at Vista Grande to build an L-shaped adobe wall to hone their skills with the masonry. Karvas is teaching them how to make blocks, fashion the mortar and stack the bricks. The process takes time and dry weather in order to cure the bricks properly to their desired strength. During their setting time, bricks must lay flat and dry so they can be added to a wall or frame.

In order for the students to be adobe certified, they must pass a test, for which Quentin Wilson of the Earthbuilders Guild is helping them study. Students must construct their own wall in a matter of hours and it must include a window or a door. At the moment, students are just getting some practice with building, according to Wilson, and will be able to take the test later.

The Earthbuilders Guild is an organization focused on building with natural materials made of earth. Adobe is a main focus, as it has been the primary building material in the Southwest, and many other parts of the world, for centuries. If students pass their test they will be certified to build adobe structures up to modern building codes.

You can read the original article at www.taosnews.com

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