Eccentric Aesthetics: DIY Eco-Friendly Earthbag Homes


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The phrase “form follows function” has morphed in meaning over time and is, perhaps rightly, open to interpretation. One interesting extension of this idea is that the form of a building can follow the functions of its constituent parts – that the visual result can reflect the process of construction and that this, in turn, makes the architecture more educational or “honest” – a way to learn the history of a building simply by taking a look at how it was made.

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In addition to their do-it-yourself, easy-to-build and other sustainability-related benefits, “earth bag” homes – constructed of bags filled with local dirt, mud, sand and/or rock – are also potentially extremely expressive as works of design. Their structural properties and the ways in which they are stacked certainly preclude some design possibilities but they enable others.

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The end product reflects not only the more universal properties of sand-and-dirt-built structures but also can indicate individual stylistic preferences and regional building practices. The final appearance is generally curved, organic and assymetrical – not things we are used to in home design – but invariably are anything but boring. All in all, they have a great deal of expressive potential for something so cheap, easy and fast to build – if nothing else as an eccentric guest house or secondary rural cabin.

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