The non-profit Uncommon Good (www.uncommongood.org) has spent the last year or so planning, organizing and now building their headquarters in Claremont, California which lies in the San Gabriel Valley in LA County. Designed by Claremont Environmental Design Group (CEDG) and built with an average of 9-12 people of varying ages, and a Bobcat. The walls were built shovel full by shovel full and we have community volunteers that come and help build the vaults, all by hand. We have been building the wall and barrel vaults since October 3rd, 2011. It has been a truly enlightening experience being involved in this project and I hope we are able to break more ground in the mainstream culture.
There was a lot involved in the engineering and permitting process due to the buildings codes, but Claremont was eventually nice enough to allow us to build. Provided we had two engineers to sign off on it 😉 The footings are approximately 450-500 psi of stabilized earth mix, and the vaults are about 1400-1500 psi. Rebar is all over the place and bond beams (headers) were added to the design. The thing is like a fortress compared to the surrounding buildings which are typical square 60’s to 70’s designs fully loaded with asbestos.
Overall it is a beautiful example of how much better we can get at building by using at least less cement. I believe, and so do most of my fellow earth builders, that we can build with 0% cement. It’s obvious really. Cement is great but not all over the place. Modern Romans we are.
Our organization, United Earth Builders, wants to get these structures seismic shake table tested so that we can show the ICC that they are viable buildings that can withstand high magnitude earthquakes with no cement. After asking city and officials, builders, architects, engineers and whoever has had experience with building they have all told me that the Cal Earth ICBO dead/live load test was great, but it doesn’t meet the requirement to get this fully accepted by not only the mainstream, but for humanitarian efforts as well. This structure was a great leap forward in promoting earth bag building, but an earth builders work is never done 😉
Anyhoo, enjoy the photos and there are more here: