This is the house that dirt built! What you are about to read is nothing short of unbelievable! The narrative defies the norm, and yet, manmade structures made from raw earth have continually existed, as far back as 10,000 years ago.
The United Nations estimates that 30 per cent of all human inhabitants live in houses constructed of earth.
Why in this 21st-century technologically driven world, would we want to incorporate soil as a main ingredient to build our homes? The forthcoming answers might well impress you.
For one, the earth is everywhere, easy to come by. As an organic building material when used, it possesses great strength, is soundproof, fire resistant, insect resistant, energy efficient, and significantly reduces interior heat. It is also non–toxic, creates no allergic reaction, and is environmentally friendly.
Earth in construction is also inexpensive compared to other main construction materials.
The 720–square–foot, two-bedroom, one-bathroom earthen cottage is owned by a mother-and-daughter team of Marlene, a biochemist, who is its designer and builder; and her daughter, Francine, a business management entrepreneur, and is located in Cardiff Hall, Runaway Bay, St Ann.
The sun–dried clay blocks used for the structure came from the sites natural clay soil. Its very wide textured walls are a surprising 17 inches thick. The grass was added for tensile strength to the composition, with lime water for waterproofing, all in a rather mystifying concoction.
But it’s not only the peculiar architecture that grabs your undivided attention. What also raises eyebrows are the quirky design elements throughout, namely, the house appearing to sit on a complete bed of large stones; the various coloured glass bottles and glass blocks buried in the walls, welcoming in the sunlight; and driftwood and pimento wood pieces visibly arranged as pronounced works of art.
No less eye–catching are the recycled wood furniture; kitchen cupboards made from driftwood; bamboo basin bathroom counter; and pink seashells spouting water from the shower wall.
An outdoor shower enclosed in bamboo opens unashamedly to the sky. The pool swims right by the house, and an artful sculpture garden makes a good impression with driftwood and stone monuments, allowing a pause for deep reflection.
This house takes life-threatening global warming and climate change very seriously. It plays its part in our ultimate survival with its preferred material of choice for construction.
Barry Rattray is a dream house designer and builder. Email feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com