Earthbag Temple dOMe hOMe 2013-14-15
December of 2013 we started building our first earth bag dome structure at Baja Bio Sana, Baja Sur Mexico. We decided to work on a small prototype in order to evaluate the effectiveness of this technique. The project was lead by Rashek Lightwon and Scottie Berman.
Our mini “meditation temple” was built with the collaboration of several Baja Bio Sana Founders and visitors.
This project was so successful that Rashek decided to build his home using the same technique.
Earth bag technology explained by Rashek Lightwon.
The earth bag building technique is a relatively simple idea and building method to use. It can be as easy as filling a mesh bag with a moist mixture of earth, clay, small gravel, dry grass and lime then stacking and gently compacting the bag in place. However don’t let the simplicity of the technique and building materials lead you to believe that it is limited to primitive and rudimentary designs. If properly done this technique have tremendous structural integrity, huge thermal mass, and exceptional esthetic beauty. Though this technique can be used to build virtually any style of building, I chose to build a classic dome, which in my opinion is idea for the desert where we experience hurricanes, high winds and earth tremors.
March 16, 2013, I decided to break ground and start building my home at Bio Sana. By June 1st of 2015 phase 2 of 11 was completed, in total 16 months working with a small team of 3 Mexicans from the local village of El Chorro and the occasional volunteer.
Our earth bag dOMe hOMe is based on Sacred Geometry principles, primarily the Flower of Life, Fibonacci sequences and deep ecology. These domes are not only extremely cost effective but are also amazing structures for the desert climate; it is partially submerged into the earth, 1 meter 50 below grade to take advantage of the cool quality of the earth and to create a unique climate stabilized environment inside the dome. This structure also incorporates many other sustainable aspects, which I will describe later in the article.
First a site was chosen where no established trees would have to be removed and primarily a flat desert location. It is ecologically placed within a native agroforestry system supported by our water harvesting contour swales. It will use solar for electricity and hot water, Hu manure toilet composting systems, productive grey water mulch-pits, and edible species landscaping. 90% of the materials are resourced from on site.
The technique we use is similar to super adobe, however in my opinion is superior in that we can achieve a true DOME shape rather than a CONE shaped structure. During the building of my home, we developed a system that is ingenious and yet simple in order to achieve the true dome shape. In addition and very important and what sets us apart from super adobe is that we use no barb wire between the courses and no rebar is necessary to achieve structural integrity, no cement is required to properly plaster the outside of the bags. This is huge. We have sourced 100% recycled and biodegradable bags, which are manufactured in México and used in the transport of fruit. We use very little wood in the structure. Beams for the entrance and interior finishing are from local dead standing trees on the property. Most of these materials can be found and collected onsite or within a 40-Km drive. Clay is harvested from dry local riverbeds.
There are no unusable piles of building 'waste materials' or toxic by-products from the construction process.
This unique design with beautiful esthetic and minimal footprint makes this a truly earth friendly bio-construction technique and a future showcase of dome potential for desert climate zone.
Designer- Builder- Artist.
Rashek Lightwon has a Fine Arts degree in painting and sculpture, and a lengthy history of successful building projects. He has been creating unique sacred geometry natural buildings for over 20 years. In the late 90s, he started a company in B.C. Canada called; "Building with Straw bales" and over the following 10 years successfully designed and built 11 site specific, post and beam straw bale infill houses. More recently domes have captured his attention and in the summer of 2011, he designed and built from scratch a 21 ft diameter 4-season green house dome on his land outside of Nelson BC, Canada.
EARTHBAG WORKSHOP offered at Baja Bio Sana
These are hands on Natural Building workshop to learn the basic and advanced skills necessary for building your own Earth bag Dome. These workshops are geared towards the more advanced builder. However, we will accommodate those participants who are keen yet less experienced. These are small intimate and highly focused workshop so that everyone will benefit greatly from the experience. Structural elements will be stressed; functionality and a high level of aesthetic detail and completion will be achieved.
Come be empowered by learning to build Naturally with Onsite Resources and Eco Friendly Building Techniques including:
- Earth bag Technology
- Earthen plasters using, local earth/clay mixtures.
- Natural locally harvested, nopal cactus, aloe Vera finishes.
- Linseed/sunflower seed oil sealers and waterproofing.