Wide Earth Smallholding

Wide Earth Smallholding

And Allaah has made for you the earth a wide expanse.(Qur'aan- 71:19)

Interview With An Earthbag Architect -Part 2

[The following is an interview with Jose Andres Vallejo of ‘Arquitectura en Equilibrio’



4. Who are most of the people who are interested in your earthbag building designs, and what purposes are they being used for?

They are mostly people with well-structured plans to make a transition to a more sustainable, self-sufficient lifestyle, migrating from cities to rural areas where food can be grown. They are also people interested in taking an active participation in the construction of their own home.



 5. What are some of the specific benefits you have found working with them? And what are some of the difficulties or drawbacks in using them?

The people with which I’ve had the pleasure of working are indeed very conscious and sensible. They are working their way out of a system that they no longer want to support or feed, and they are looking for ways to live coherently with their own values and principles. That for me is a great source of inspiration in since I’m in the same transitional process.



6. How difficult is it to learn to build for the self-builder? And do you offer or recommend any training seminars for those who would like to see how it is done hands-on?

To become an integral self-builder is a continuous learning process which may expand in time. I’m currently in the process of becoming a competent self-builder and learning in some areas from people that have used my designs and worked their own way to build their homes independently. It’s a neverending learning adventure. Most self-builders learn the most while building their first project. This means that they embark irremediably in an adventure where only some of the questions have an answer at that point; trial and error becomes the method to navigate through the ever-present challenges. In some cases this translates into strong experiences that require serenity and perseverance to overcome, but the gratification is proportionate to the challenge once the job is done. I recommend starting with a small project to gain experience.

Earthbag building only can be learned while actually doing it. That’s why the training seminars are most important. I offer a four day hands-on workshop where the basic technique is shared and practiced.



7. Can you give us some information on the overall cost of a medium sized building, possibly using an example project of yours, such as you the Casa Antakarana project?

Casa Antakarana is a project built in a very seismic area; special precautions were taken to reinforce even more the structure. This house had a cost of around $55 USD/sq ft for materials and labor.



8. Tell us about the earth bag building seminars that you conduct throughout the year. Are people from different countries able to attend?

We offer a four day earthbag or superadobe workshop, hands on training that incorporates the basic tools to start building a small project independently. The basic content is:
  • Intensive hands on practical training with superadobe an all its components
  • Geometry of domes, the ideal catenary arch to build them
  • Compasses, how to transfer a dome from paper to reality
  • Stabilization using lime and cement
  • Foundations, drainage, waterproofing
  • Buttresses, doors and window placings
  • Basic bio-climatic considerations, site planning
  • Recognizing the appropriate soils to build
This workshop is organized 3 times a year directly. Workshops can also be organized abroad in specific cases. Previously we have had people of several countries coming.



9. Lastly, Are you presently available for consultation and architectural design services for earthbag homes to individuals in South America and elsewhere? Can people purchase plans from you? If so you what is the best way for them to contact you about this?



Yes, we provide designs and support to anyone interested locally or abroad. We have stock plans available and of course  new designs.
To contact us please write to jav@arquitecturaenequilibrio.com or call via skype to josevallejo11.



Jose Andres Vallejo
Arquitectura en Equilibrio



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  1. Wow, looking good! Those dogs are a bit worrisome though. I hope the owners aren’t terrorists like their pets. Jeez. Have you met any other neighbors and how do they feel about that? Fingers crossed that gets handled before you move in with your little ones. Snow might be melted enough for me to plant over the weekend! I too am grateful for the moisture – it could be manifesting in different form though, as far as I’m concerned. Not quite so white. LOL.

    1. I know it. They scare the kids too. We are going to try to connect the bits of fence that are on either side of the house to the house itself, so they can’t get in the backyard. They aren’t mean, but they are really, really friendly and rambunctious and wild. We haven’t met the neighbors yet. With all this mess over the bombings we will have to be very pro-active in that, making sure we make solid connections with them. They are used to Muslims though, and we are right next to the school and the masjid and many of the houses nearby are Muslims, so that is comforting. I saw you were getting snow! The rain here is cooooooold, but it could be worse (like white LOL)

  2. You mean grape VINE? (SMILE)

    Yes, the rain is such a blessing. Maashaa Allah, all those beautiful plants and potential nourishment and apothecary! I feel healthier just looking at it all, maashaa Allah.

    In the past four years, I have forgotten what it is like to have a garden. When I consider what constitutes “drought” there, I guess we must be super sub sub sub drought here. Somehow, three date palms and a few henna bushes don’t fill the green gap. Al hamdul’Illah, at least we have green dates on the tree.

    May Allah bless your efforts and grow your garden in abdundance – ameen!

    1. Oh VINE!! Well, you see, it doesn’t LOOK like a vine right now, it looks like a stick with some green things on it LOL!
      Northern Yemen was beautiful, mash’Allaah, green and lush and moist, but when we were in the South it was like you say. Dry dry dry and sunny almost all the time. Tough on my little Wisconsin girl self, mash’Allaah! I missed the green as well, and was so happy about whatever would sprout up!

  3. As salaamu alaykum wa rahmatulah,

    It looks great, masha’allah!

    I have started some seedlings including lettuce, tomatoes, onion and cucumber. This is our first venture into gardening, and we are very excited by the growth sprouting forth so far.

    Since we do not have much outdoor space, we will be repotting into bigger pots when the time is right.

    It really is all very exciting…

    1. Wa Aleikum Assalam wa Rahmatullah
      YES! mash’Allaah, I am always always so happy and grateful and amazed when the little seeds we plant turn into plants that give so much beauty to our lives, alhamdulillah.
      Someday take some pictures and share with me, insh’Allaah.

        1. Well, you could write a guest blog post, send them to me, and I can publish them, or put them up elsewhere and post a link to them, insh’Allaah. Technical things are so not my forte, mash’Allaah.

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