Children of Hope Schoolfrom howsitgoinginhaiti.blogspot.com
This shows the beginning work of building a school in Leogane, Haiti, under the direction of Matt Gunn. He provided the images and commentary.
We've been doing a lot of road work this week so that the dump trucks can make it in with the gravel and rocks that we'll need to finish our foundation.
We had a busy week here in Leogane. We broke ground on Monday with our crew of twenty workers. It's great to see them so excited to have a job. We hope that they will learn a skill while working with us that will open doors for them in the future. Here they are filling the trench with rocks, later to be filled more with gravel and then tamped and leveled. This is called a rubble trench foundation, and has been used effectively for thousands of years all over the world.
This is what I stepped off the plane to a few weeks ago, courtesy of Jaime, from Belize. He had the first four foundational rows done, double bagged with stabilized earth (10% cement mixed in). We brought Jaime over to Haiti for a month to teach us how to build with earthbags, and he has exceeded all expectations. Thank you so much, Jaime. If anyone is interested in learning how to build using this method, you can visit Jaime and his family for a workshop in Belize on a beautiful piece of land that they have out in the country there. His email is barzakhfalahATgmail.com
This is Pastor Jack, doing the initial plaster work, before the chicken wire. Jack's a great worker and just got promoted because he has caught on so well.
Here we brought in dirt in to raise the floor up to the appropriate level. It must be tamped and leveled and then we put in a layer of about four inches of gravel on top of that which serves as a moisture barrier and tamped it down. Above that we put some stabilized earth and tamped it really well. It is very solid. For the finish coat, they'll trowel a thin layer of colored cement for a "dirt" cheap cement floor.
Progress is slow (about two rows of bags a day was our average), but the stability and afford-ability that this building system offers makes it worth it. It's hard to believe how solid these structures are.
They were just getting ready to pour the reinforced cement bond beam to tie it all together when I left yesterday.
The tamped, stabilized earth floor, almost ready for the final coat. We'll wait until we've plastered the interior walls before we finish it.
The cement plaster is nothing new for our workers since most buildings use it here.
There has been a lot of interest and excitement about earthbag building in the community. People come to look at the cool structure and see how solid it is compared to the traditional cinder block that they use and want to know more. The building inspector that came out even asked if we'd do a workshop to teach more people about it. Another nonprofit organization wants to build some buildings in the spring and will use some of our now experienced employees. Right now we're employing 23 workers full time on the project and should be able to keep that up through December. Hopefully we'll be able to raise more money between now and then to finish the school, which would extend the construction into the spring.
The piece of plywood is there to anchor the inverter to and everything electrical that will be run to this point from all of the future buildings at the school. It has chicken wire over it and will be plastered over so you won't be able to see it. The earthbag walls themselves are extremely solid and hold nails very well, so hanging things on the walls isn't a problem. We just wanted to play it safe for the heavy electrical boxes and put the plywood there to screw into. It is anchored into 2x4 pieces that are buried between the courses of bags to give it even more stability.
The roof is off center. Jaime did this because there are no entries in the back of the building and he wanted to maximize the amount of shade around the perimeter to keep it cool inside. Any lower in the front and tall people would have to duck to pass underneath. The plan has a lot of windows for ventilation. As a rule in earthbag construction, you should have at least 3 feet between windows for stability with a good lintel above that extends at least 12 inches on each side. We used a very reinforced bond beam to serve as our lintel.
Since there are no Simpson ties in Haiti, we had these 13" L shaped brackets made for half the price that they cost at Home Depot. To keep the roof hurricane proof, we ran a piece of rebar above the tin roofing above every other purline.
Some of the guys are prepping the foundation for the next building. Smaller gravel goes on top of the larger rocks and is then tamped level.
The electrical conduit is covered by the plaster. Once we're done with the interior plaster, we'll do the finish layer on the floor. If you look in the upper corner, you'll notice that the bond beam has a diagonal that comes into the room about 2 feet. He did this on each corner for added seismic stability.
You can see the plans for this school here.
There are many more photos of this project at Watson's FaceBook page