Perched precariously into a steep hillside, surrounded almost every where you look by a sweeping river below, the beautiful Tamang village of Sano Borle is breathtakingly beautiful. But in 2015, in 90 seconds, it’s 43 stone houses and primary school were levelled completely.
Eleven days later, we were the first to arrive – looking as as were for Purna and Mila – two of our craftsmen who’ve worked with us since the very beginning. Not a single building had survived – but miraculously there was only one death. When we arrived at the tiny primary school, crippled and twisted, we decided then and there to start here.
Key to the emerging idea was to use the earth under our feet to build back better…
Stabilised Compressed Earth Blocks (CSEB) is a modern take on an ancient idea. Earth is a fantastic insulator, and we’ve been using it to build for thousands of years. Bricks are just earth blocks cooked in a kiln. But bricks waste a lot of energy and when you cook the earth, you lose much of it’s insulating properties.
CSEB compresses the earth into a mould, at high tension, and mixes in a little lime or cement, and stone dust or sand to improve the bonding. The advantage of the system is it’s ability to integrate reinforcement rods without making special formas and beams – so it’s fast, strong, seismically safe, thermally comfortable – and inexpensive.
And if that wasn’t enough – it looks lovely and clips together like lego.