Saturday, September 11, 2010

First Earth - Ecological Architecture: Earth, Water and Straw, solid as concrete, builds strong communities

After some articles are 'put to bed' at FilterBlogs they get a Posthumous Longtail Aperitif; links to related articles published after my original post.

Fight Club (1999) first 10 minutes is a great representation of the consumerism that I talk about in this article. As an educational piece about how to better engineer cities, I thought this would be great use of the Internets ability to connect things: unfortunately Youtube has software that blocks this stream and disallows the embed no matter what use it is intended for. A great example of how DRM doesn't work and how ACTA, the international trade agreement that this censorship is a part of effects the fair use of content in situations where the content is intended to enlighten and educate, to act as an example, a cultural artifact - all of which are elements that are supposed to be exempt from the ACTA provisions, but which get caught up in a copy right fetish of protectionism in the current Zeitgeist.

Here's the Youtube refusal of my up-load request - after they've taken my up-load by the way - in other words, they now have my user generated content, but refuse to fulfill their end of the application/user agreement as they are required to as per the law.

Of coarse this is an algorythm that is parsing ones and zeros, the DRM protocals that Youtube is instituting to keep the dieing dinosoars old media happy are at fault.


I thought I was about to watch another discussion of architecture and sustainability. And, with the title First Earth, an obvious play on the Dark Green environmental movement's group "Earth First", I was sure I was in for an hour of rhetoric and hyperbole.

I was wrong.

Youtube user The Red Pharmacy has posted the film "FIRST EARTH - Uncompromising Ecological Architecture", a 12 part series, in ten languages, which argues that the ancient techniques of mud brick construction can help create sustainable economies that are good for the planet, our communities and ourselves - and that work better in many ways, than concrete or wood-frame construction.

SunRay Kelly's 'cob house' near Portland Oregon

I've seen other films on building techniques and global warming. The societies of architects around the world are quite progressive on this topic. They've been telling us for some time now that the buildings we live and work in, are really inefficient and a big part of our unsustainable economy. A stat that has been making the rounds: 40% of the greenhouse gases we release every day are the result of buildings; complex structures, artificial environments which require hot and cold feed water, sewage systems, lighting, heating, air conditioning and cooling.

Several large scale projects have built in the last ten years that have used high tech to make large office towers more efficient and cheaper to run; architects designing towards a more sustainable model and encouraging developers, though economy, to pursue the coarse. Architects found that bringing in new vectors into the design process, like efficiency, has had an unexpected side effect - buildings designed to work with the environment around them became more people friendly at the same time!

First Earth talks about how 'cob building techniques', or adobe construction that use earth water and straw as building materials, are so hands on, so human, and so hard wired to our ancient experience that the technique unveils many new starting points toward sustainability solutions, while at the same time solves the great psychological disorder of modern times - the alienation of the individual in a soul-less, commodified cookie cutter urban architecture. Every cob home or piece of cob 'urban furniture' is absolutely individual - like a vase one might make at night-school pottery class, and because the building process is labour intensive and low tech, it 'causes community' wherever it is applied.

Instead of going super high tech, elite, leading edge to solve sustainability issues, cob building addresses the issue from the other way round. Using common earth, the essence of the biosphere, cob builders use their hands and feet as tools and simply pile cob balls one on top of the other, and walls begin to be!

This is part 9 of 12 of "FIRST EARTH - Uncompromising Ecological Architecture"; it describes the grand vision. Watch this as a primer and I'm sure you'll want to go to part 1 and watch the the whole thing.

A must see.


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