Eartbag houses can be so beautiful

Eartbag houses can be amazingly beautiful

Our concept in short is to build earthbag buildings that are supposed to be safe for anyone for almost any natural disaster. The first step is build our

first earthbag dome which is self-sufficient in water and energy. For energy we came with a special concept called ‘Solar Mushrooms’. The information of our research and poject will be shared worldwide. Thats why the project is called ‘Open Source House Project’, open source means ‘available for everybody’.

The next step is to build more types of earthbag buildings. Designs for 2 people and small families. Again the information about how to make these different designs will be shared online. The houses we have built are functioning now and can be rented to tourists. At the end of this phases we should be able to generate money for the project by renting the houses.

In the 3th phase we will tranform the landscape into a real eco-park. One of the first steps here is setting up our aquaponics farm. We will make huge concrete tanks under the ground to store water in the rainingseason. This makes it possible to run the farm and do different things with water. One of these things will be making an artificial stream and swimming pool through the park. We will also do this using the earthbag technique. Our main focus in this stage however is pointed in setting up the aquaponics farm and building the crucial water storage.

In the last phase everything comes together. There should be a full functioning, self-sustaining eco-resort including a farm that is producing more organic food then we can eat. This is the moment that we can expand our economy by selling our products elsewhere or even abroad. We can train youths and staff now and we are offering a lot of jobs for the local community. We don’t have many costs because we are self-sufficient and we make money by running the eco-resort (renting lodges, restaurant, tourist activities)

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Phase 1: A self-sustaining earthbag building

We have big dreams, but to accomplish them we have to start small. Thats why we start with building our first earthbag building. The past months Martijn & Kevin have been designing the building we start with. A quite simpel model with 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and two bathrooms. The main section (middle dome) will be the only dome having two stages. On the main floor will be the kitchen and living room, the first floor will be the master bedroom. Besides earth other materials will be used. They will mainly be wood and bamboo which is locally produced.

Water
We will pump the water we need by using a borehole and a waterpump. This migth be a temporary solution. We are considering to install a special watertank for hot water supply. Although it would not look that nice, it might be the best solution for now. We are working on a better solution to make it look beautiful, but for now this will work perfectly.

Imagine the solar mushrooms in the night as the function as ligts through the park

Imagine the solar mushrooms in the night as they function as lights throughout the park

Solar Mushrooms
For generating and storing solar power we have a new concept: Imagine a small earthbag building in the shape of a giant mushroom. Inside the body of the mushroom it will be very cool because of the thick walls, a perfect place to put our batteries in. The umbrella-shaped head of the mushroom will be used to put the solarpanels on. In this shape it will always catch sun light no matter what the position of the sun is.

In the night they will light themselves with different colors and spread a very cool and dreamy vibe over the park. The definately can give our project someting extra, something even more unique. If we use these solar mushrooms, we are the first ones to build a machine for generating energy that is actually beautiful. There are lots of amazing possibilities with this idea.

 

Phase 2: Build different designs

eco-dome-2Now we know how to build our earthbag buildings, we can start experimenting with different designs of houses/domes. The most common one would be a two person building because we will rent our houses mostly to two people. But we also make designs suitable for more people. Or maybe even a small farm out of earthbags (looking forward to our ideas with aquaponics farming). At the end of this phase we want to have built 5 up to 8 new buildings. Beautiful earthbag buildings, al different in design and personality. Some will be suitable for backpackers, some will be more luxury at the inside and therefore more suitable for other people. What we want to offer is choice and something unique.

Also in this stage we will build more Solar Mushrooms. As we think every dome needs it’s own mushroom to be sure enough solar power is available for every house. To know this for shure we have to do more research and make more calculations.

 

Phase 3: Creating a sustainable food supply

We are moving in the right direction with our project now. But we are an eco-park and we want to serve our guests 100% fresh and organic food. Aquaponics farming is the solution to this. But first we need to make concrete watertanks to store the water we gather in the raining season. We can built as many as we need. We calculated that a small concrete watertank (5m x 2m x 2m) can store 20.000 liters of water. If we built 5 of these watertanks we can store enough water (100.000 liters) for our gardening and other activities.

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This method is called ‘aquaponics’, which is a highly sustainable method combining conventional aquaculture (raising aquatic animals such as snails, fish, crayfish or prawns in tanks) with hydroponics (cultivating plants in water) in a symbiotic environment. This method provides for faster and more sustainable food production. The biggest advantages are that virtually no water is wasted, no pesticides are used – pesticides would kill the fishes – and that this method speeds up plant and fish produce. We will build these aquaponic farms in specially designed domes.

In the aquaponics farm itself we will have basins for fish, and on top of that we will pump the water around and do our aquaponics gardening. The fish we grow is tilapia and vundu catfish because these are fast growers which are not too sensitive in oxygen and temperature levels. Pretty easy to grow fish which are already living in West-Africa. The other benefits these species have is that they can grow on vegetables, food-waste and maggots (yes, we will breed them for fish food). So we dont have to feed the fish with pellets made out of fishmeal, which is completely not sustainable

We will grow are all vegetables and fruits you can think of except the ones growing in a cold climate. Especially the ‘zilte pieper’, a dutch potato which has recently been discovered, is worth the experiment. Potatoes are gold in Africa and good business can be done with it. Recent projects in Pakistan showed growing these potatoes can be a huge succes.

If you want to read more about aquaponics check our aquaponics page

 

Phase 4: It becomes an amazing eco-resort

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In the best case scenario we end up with the most special eco-resorts and we’ll enjoy lots of media attention

Imagine yourself, we got a bunch of beautiful eco-domes spread over an amazing plot of land next to a mangrove forest. All these eco-domes have their own solar-mushroom which is providing them in power. Around the dome is an amazing garden full of flowers, trees, birds and fruits. Even monkeys might be jumping around. Through the park flows a small freshwater stream which is attracting birds and animals from miles around. This stream will flow through the park and finally ends up in a small pond. From there it will be pumped up again, up to the point where the stream starts. There are paths through the park (providing platforms for bird-watchers) where people can make the most beautiful walks. We will make sure it will be very close to paradise. Even beautiful treehouses are there. A restaurant provides amazing fresh food for our guests.

Our farm is producing a lot of food because of the aquaponics techniques we are using. In theorie we should produce so much food that we can sell our food to other hotels or the local community. We could start a shop (build out of earthbags) and sell our food in the big cities. We provide jobs in hospitality, gardening, building, farming, tourist-activities, local transport and so on.

The last important thing is that we need to find touroperators who are willing to fill our beds. If we have partners like that, we have an amazing sustainable project that can fund itself and has earned back its costs. Besides that it will generate many jobs and possibilities to develop new talents.

ecoresortplanphase4

This is a map of the fourth phase of the project. Every building had it’s own garden, some with a small stream flowing through it. In the center you see the restaurant and lodge, the square is the farm including the water tanks and aquaponics farm. Next to the river is a small harbour where our boats and kayaks are stalled. The small roads are all connected and provide some nice walks through the beautiful gardens of the park