The first wall – Part I

In August we invited for the first time some friends to help us with the project and to try as guinea pigs the idea of combined work and holidays. The most important that we wanted to do in these two weeks was to build the first wall of our loam house. So here the first part of how we made it 🙂

Our neighbour had already prepared a 50 cm high and 25 cm wide basement with stones from our site set in concrete. It’s also reaching about 30 cm into the ground.

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Framework and basement

So we could start directly with preparing the wall: First He began to cut some wooden planks for the window, which we wanted to mount in there. The windows always need a construction around, because they would be much too heavy to put them directly on the loam wall. In the meantime I made some tests with the soil on our site to find out, what mixtures would be suitable for us. For these analyses I used the book “Building with Earth” by Gernot Minke.

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Tests with different quantities of loam and sand

We knew before that we have loamy soil at the bottom of the site and sandy soil at the top, but we didn’t know what ratio we would need. So I sieved both, mixed sand and loam with water in different quantities and made some thin strings, which I stretched and balls, which I dropped, I let them dry off and broke them into pieces.

When our guests came, we began to prepare the inner framework of the wall, for which we used reed and chicken wire. First we fixed the reed sticks horizontally with nails, afterwards the chicken wire, then another layer of vertical reed sticks and another layer of chicken wire.

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The first layer of reed and chicken wire

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The second layer of reed fixed with small wires

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We connected the chicken wire with small strings and wires, in order that the wire couldn’t move when we pulled it.

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Fixing the wire with small strings

If the chicken wire was too loose, the loam would have been able to move and there would have emerged cracks. We also had to press the ends of the chicken wire and the small wires inside the framework in order that nobody could hurt himself afterwards while working with the fingers in the loam.

In the meanwhile the others sieved the sand and loam with a slightly modified cement mixer, which worked out quite well. We just had to stop sometimes the machine to empty it of the big stones and lumps, which fell inside.

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Our modified cement mixer and the sieved loam below on the ground

After about 10 hours (distributed on three days^^) of sieving, cutting and fixing we finally had everything prepared to begin with the wall…

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