Monday, October 16, 2006

The "Honduras House"

Christian Aid is working with Diarmuid Gavin who is an award-winning garden designer and star of the BBC's hit tv show
The Home Front.

Together they designed a "dramatic feature" at the October Grand Designs Live NEC show, on 6-8 October 2006 ("the ultimate exhibition for people in the heart of England passionate about home and garden design" i.e. a big trade show)

Here's a description of the rammed earth part:

The display will show how communities in the developing world are embracing an eco-friendly way of life. Eco-design features include walls that are built using sustainable techniques that not only safeguard the environment but also protect their inhabitants when disaster strikes. The Honduras home features a strengthened rammed-earth wall, insect-repellent decorative paint taken from local plants and tree replanting. In the Asia section, visitors will experience a home raised on stilts to avoid flooding, featuring biogas and emergency assistance packs. While in Africa the homes include ventilation systems, rain-water collection and solar panels.

(thank you reuters).

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Sounds like quite a trade show. As such, one can't help but wonder how much more "in the mainstream" or "in the public consciousness" does rammed earth really need to be? You don't need this site--just go to Google News and type in rammed earth. There is always something. Ding Dong! News flash--RAMMED EARTH IS A HOUSING OPTION THAT IS AVAILABLE. (Now we definitely all know.) So what is the big hassle? Why isn't rammed earth as popular as vinyl? Yes, rammed earth is special, but it can be as mundane and frumpy in its functionality as anything else.

Are the Hondurans who live in these houses with the rammed earth walls paying $350 a square foot? (Answer = no)

Is Honduran strengthened rammed earth weaker than our mighty North American rammed earth?

How is it that rammed earth is an economical way to build in Honduras, but so bloody expensive in North America?

Is the price difference all in the cost of labor? Really? Or are there some design hang-ups that make rammed earth houses needlessly expensive?

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