“It looks funny, but it’s mine,” was how Teresa Guzmán Antonio described her new home in the Isthmus of Tehuantepec region of Oaxaca.
Guzmán lost her previous house in Asunción Ixtaltepec in the 8.2-magnitude, September 7 earthquake, which devastated parts of southern Mexico.
But now, thanks to an initiative of Mexicans who live abroad, she once again has a place of her own and can start to rebuild her life.
The design of her home is striking and has been compared to four igloos standing side by side or the domes of a mosque. But more commonly, local residents say it looks like a series of beehives.
The civil engineer who supervised the project told the newspaper El Universal that the peculiar design of the dwelling is due to the fact that it was built using the earthquake-resistant technique known as superadobe, a form of earthbag construction developed by Iranian architect Nader Khalilli.
As the home has no corners, it is far less susceptible to seismic waves, Filiberto Lara explained.
Another benefit of superadobe construction is that it is low-cost. Earth from the local area can be used if it has a clay content of between 10% and 30%, the engineer said. The earth is reinforced with lime and after two months the mixture will turn to rock, he added.
However, for Guzmán’s home, nine truckloads of adobe had to be brought in at a cost of 8,100 pesos (US $435).
The house has a central five-meter-diameter dome that is used both as a dining and living room, two 3.5-meter domes that function as the home’s kitchen and bathroom and a four-meter dome bedroom.
The walls are made up of 40 to 50-centimeter-thick sacks that are filled with the earth and lime mixture.
Even though the materials required are cheap, Lara explained, workers from Veracruz had to be brought in to complete the project and its cost subsequently swelled to around 150,000 pesos (US $8,000).
However, most of the expenses were covered by a project called Recuperando MX917, an initiative of the organization Red Global MX (Mexico Global Network) that is backed by Mexicans who live in the United States and other foreign countries.
September’s two large earthquakes triggered a mini-boom in innovative and sustainable alternative housing projects.
Source: El Universal (sp)