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A Little History

Adobe is one of the oldest and most popular construction techniques in the world. Hassan Fathy (1899 - 1989) was a noted pioneer Egyptian architect in the use of this technology, which is the first of its kind in the world. It has been used for more than 10 thousand years in the most varied zones and climates of the planet. even today considered appropriate in Egypt.

He restored the use of adobe using ancient design methods and materials. I integrate the rural economic situation of the country with the wide knowledge of the old architecture and techniques of designs of cities. He trained local people to build their own houses and left the world with his great legacy.

It is possible to make mud brick with any kind of soil, they do not require a precise mixture of clay and sand. They dry in the sun and take only a few days to get ready. Observation is necessary, however, the quality of the bricks (more or less resistance) will result from the quality of the earth. The ideal for making bricks is clay with 30% of clay in its composition.

Making the bricks


The molds, in general of wood

The mixture to settle the adobes in the wall is the same one that is used to make them. In this way, we make a home without the use of cement.

The best, most fun, therapeutic and interactive way to prepare the mud is with your feet, and preferably a few of them! We tread the mud while we wet it, and for some of us, while we also sing and dance.

The chopped straw is added during the trampling. It is important to mix well with mud.

With practice, you will discover the most suitable amount of water to prepare the bricks. But be careful not to pour too much water, the mixture should not be very wet.

The size of the bricks changes depending on the height to be given to the wall and the ease of handling the materials. With large bricks is built faster, but are also heavier and more complicated to work.

As soon as the mold is properly filled, it is possible to remove it. The clay will maintain the shape if the amount of water is correct. But remember that newly shaped bricks should not be handled. They should be dried in the same place where they were made, duly protected from rain.

The molds can be unitary, making one brick at a time, can be double or with more convenient amounts. This will depend on the available space, the terrain conditions, the number of people involved and the creativity.

The time until they are dry is at least 3 days, but this can change depending of the amount of water used, the type of land and the climatic conditions of your area.

Some technical advice

raised above a waterproof base. Bricks can not be in direct contact with the soil to avoid moisture problems. Remember to put pieces of wood or other materials that allow the marking and fixing of the openings at the end of the construction.

An adobe wall should be thick enough to keep cool in the daytime, but fine enough to transfer heat to the night.

In temperate climates adobe is less effective at conserving heat by its relatively dense thermal mass.

What is not so good about adobe

  • Bricks are sensitive to moisture
  • that the bricks dry
  • Does not serve as a structural wall when used without reinforcements

extracted from "Sustainable Solutions" by André Soares (Ecocentro IPEC)

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