Friday, February 17, 2012

Natural Building in Nicaragua - A Photo Montage

My latest adventure consisted of an amazingly rich and educational stay in Nicaragua for 2.5 weeks. This was my first experience in Central America...and what I'm considering to be the first of many more to come.  Nicaragua popped into my vision this past Fall when I saw a post on Facebook from a non-profit operating in Nicaragua, called Grupo Fenix.  This group is doing AMAZING things in the rural mountains of northern Nicaragua, in a small village called Sabana Grande.  This particular area of Nicaragua was heavily affected by the Sandinista/Contra Civil War and by the resulting land mines which were left behind.  This region has serious deforestation issues as well; being that the majority of people in the area cook with wood-fired stoves, Grupo Fenix has helped to define technology which promotes affordable solar cookers!   Since Grupo Fenix is busy with so many wonderful programs, they need a classroom, or a meeting center which can be used to host events and meetings. This space can also be used by the community for their own events.  Of course, it only makes sense to build this classroom using local, indigenous materials which are affordable and accessible to the people of this region.
And so this is how I came to be involved with Natural Building in Nicaragua!
Me and my Nica Family: Simone, Reana, Arely, & Eddie

To check out what Susan Kinne (Director of Grupo Fenix) has been doing in Nicaragua, visit this short OWN video clip.

This building workshop was led by Liz Johndrow and one of the major efforts of the workshop was to really involve the women of Sabana Grande to be the builders, with the help of a few handy, local men.  This was the first time for many of these women to step away from their role as cook and family provider and work with their hands to build (but of course, these amazing women were still up at 5am every morning slapping tortillas and home by 5pm to start dinner!). 

A handful of Natural Building techniques were employed in the workshop; we focused on using several of the indigenous Nicaraguan techniques, such as adobe and tequezal.  But we also constructed with several other techniques to show the many ways of different Natural Building methods you can use depending on the materials you have on hand.  The majority of the materials we used in all methods listed below are: local earth dug up (clay sand mixture), sand from a local river, straw, horse manure, a local cactus called Pitaya, water, local pine needles, and locally harvested bamboo.

Listed below are the methods you will see in the pictures below. Feel free to comment or contact me for more info on any of these methods!:
- Adobe
- Cob
- Wattle - Daub
- Chorizo
- Maya Cyclone
- "ClayStraw Weave"
- Tequezal
- Wine Bottle Work
- Earthen Plaster
- Earthen Floor Sample
- Clay Paint
- Lime Plaster with Fresco

I feel that the best way to showcase what we built is to load a 'slideshow' of pictures to be viewed all at one. If you scroll fast it reads kind of like a movie (but if you scroll too fast you'll get dizy).
There is still a lot of work left (plasters, floor, roof), but here's to 8 days of fun work! :-) 

The Building Crew!


Liz Earthen Endeavors said...

Thank you for sharing this and for being a part of the project, April. Your photos tell a wonderful story!
The local technique you refer to is 'Tequezal' and is even more prominent in the mountainous regions where there is an abundance of sticky clay, wood, and stones. They all work really well together. Talk about affordable housing!

The Pulsera Project said...

Amiga, what an awesome story. Thanks for an enriching look into the project from start to finish

evalarevolution said...

Great project April! I appreciate seeing all of the building techniques you employed. The textures and colors of the natural materials are super beautiful! Thank you for sharing.