[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?
- 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
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?
To contact us please write to firstname.lastname@example.org or call via skype to josevallejo11.
Arquitectura en Equilibrio