Thursday, December 15, 2011

How to Build an Earthen Oven

Ok, so I'm going to start describing how I built my first Earthen Oven. Well, technically my second, the first one I built here in my backyard and learned a great big lesson:

Don't try and rush your earth oven in the middle of August in Charleston, SC when the materials are wet as well as the air. Your oven will collapse. :-)  

But lets move on...ah hum...

I learned how to build an earth oven from Kiko Denzer's 'how-to' book, as well as other people's blogs and websites, so I figured I might as well share my experience so others can learn from my experience...the good and the bad.  Natural Building is a great style of building to experiment with on your own b/c there's really no high tech, expensive tools involved, the materials are hopefully free or cheap, and once you understand the materials and how to work with them, you can get very creative.  

The oven I'll be mostly discussing will be the oven which was built at two separate workshops: 
Workshop 1 - 2 days; Oven is built (thermal layer and insulation layer)
Workshop 2 - 1 day; Plaster layer and pizza cooking

After Workshop 1

After Workshop 2

The foundation was built during the week before the first workshop by me and my friend Elder Carlie Towne.  She is an elder in the Gullah/Geechee Nation.  This is her property and her vision is to eventually have a Gullah/Geechee Camp Meeting Center; a place to discuss and understand this culture of African descendants, people who are dedicated to understanding their roots and preserving their heritage.  The emergence of the earth oven is to allow us to start using the property, engage with the locals in Cross, SC, and bring this practice of Natural Building into rural South Carolina all the way down to the Charleston Low-Country.  

The design of the cultural center was taken on as pro-bono work by myself and four other fellow Architects here in Charleston and supported by Architecture for Humanity.

I hope that my rendition of 'How to Build Your Own Earthen Oven' is informative to those wishing to try it out! Please feel free to comment or ask questions!

I'll get started with the building of the Foundation in my next post.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

300 Years of Fossil Fuels in 300 Seconds

I recently came across this great 5 min. animation which breaks down the world's reliance on fossil fuels in a quick, easy to understand video; the video was produced by The Post Carbon Institute.

Check out how we got to where we are and what we can do; it's time for CHANGE!

Click here for the link:

Natural Building is a form of building which is not reliant on fossil fuels.

The building elements are composed of earthen materials as well as salvaged/recycled items.

Natural Building results in beautiful, organic, sculptural structures and finishes.