The standard houses have been designed for us, to create a kind of slave-like imprisonment where we have to pay a lot of money for heating or access to water or electricity. To get out of the welfare state is a vision that is established over several generations, to build a small house that is more in harmony with the environment, to develop housing solutions ourselves, to find custom solutions adapted to our needs. Biomimicry consists in taking inspiration from living things (shapes, materials) to realize and optimize human creations; it is about getting closer to nature and building with it.
Straw bale homes
These constructions create well-being, a connection with nature. The straw, which has an insulating power (24 cm of rock wool for 40 cm of straw), can be replaced by ferns, shavings or other natural fibers such as hay or pine needles. Straw bale walls will have a total thickness of 55 cm. The soil does not require transportation, it does not need any processing or manufacturing process and it solidifies naturally by drying without further chemical treatment. A plant-made mortar contains a natural binder (lime which participates in the regulation of humidity variations and cement) and inert materials (sawdust, sand). The next step is to find the right proportions of a mixture of clay, sand and straw. For example, a mixture of 1 part clay soil for 2.5 parts sand and 1.5 parts hay. If it cracks, it means there is too much clay. If it crumbles, there is too much sand. The right dosage will eliminate the risk of cracking due to the natural shrinkage of the clay during drying. Tests can be carried out to check the consistency of the clay. Coatings can be applied in successive layers that are increasingly thinner and thinner. The bundles can be pre-coated with a first flat bonding coat. On the administrative side, some laws can be circumvented. Sometimes, below 20 meters and if there is already a construction on the land, a building permit is not required, only a declaration or work authorization. The dwelling will be considered as an extension of an existing construction.
A base made of stones prevents water from rising by capillary action. Some tools will be useful: circular saw, square, level, screwdriver, hammer, clamp, nailer, laser. Insulation from plant origin (straw, flax, hemp, cork, wood fiber) or animal origin (sheep wool) and recycled materials (such as flakes or cellulose wadding) can be used. Linseed oil is used with color pigments against UV and for blackening of the wood. The wallpaper may be soaked in a liquid of lime and fine sand in equal parts, a material that is breathable in one direction and permeable in the other. For wooden constructions, the wood is preferably cut in winter as it’s easier to dry it out and then cut into logs of a length equal to the thickness of the wall to be built (40 cm for a load-bearing wall, 30 cm for a non-load-bearing wall). The space created between the logs is filled with insulating materials (wood chips, maize stalks, cork, wool, cellulose). A touch of clay may be placed above the glass window to prevent water infiltration.
Designing our homes
One can think of the living rooms in the south and the buffer rooms in northern exposure. The north-facing facade can be buried. The walls can be built to accumulate solar radiation and release it during nighttime. One can study the slope according to the sun and the southern exposure which is sheltered from the prevailing winds. On the vault, a layer of waterproof clay may be applied with a fine lime plaster. When building the framework, it is good to think about the action of the wind. A wooden frame allows for a better insulated house. However, the inertia of wood remains low. To avoid overheating in summer, the roofs, which can be insulated with hemp, vegetable wool or cork, may be built to overflow. A greenhouse leaning against the house would be ventilated by air captured in the north. Refractory bricks can be used for the heating core of the chimney; the rest will be built in bricks made of raw clay. A homogeneous charcoal shade can be obtained by using a blowtorch. Burned wood changes the structure of the wood and strengthens it against the fire. Linseed oil is a good waterproofing agent for raw clay tiles. The house may be surrounded by a drain (a porous pipe) that will evacuate stagnant rainwater. In the garden, there may be small constructions, semi-buried or not, such as a temazcal (possibly with ventilation to offer a view of the stars), a sauna, a stove with a fireplace, a cannery. Ponds may be arranged with a small bridge, stones and tarpaulins and aquatic plants such as aquatic mint.
The principle of Earthship
Earthships are environmentally friendly homes, self-constructed at lower costs based on the recycling of materials (tires, cans, glass bottles, wood). It is designed to be self-sufficient in water, electricity and a portion of food needs. The temperature is stable all year round thanks to the glass surfaces (at least 20%). The angle is thought according to the inclination of the sun in the heart of winter and summer. Builders use techniques such as mud walls. Rainwater is recovered, energy is produced using solar panels, dry toilets are often used, a greenhouse is integrated and uses the waste water to grow edible plants. One may wonder, however, the impact of having so many cans in the walls at the electromagnetic level?
Building in circles
A round structure tends to free the mind. The introduction of square-based housing has accompanied the growth of civilizations with a centralizing state eager to exercise strong control over its population. A Kerterre is a construction of 4 meters in diameter that combines discretion in the landscape. Kerterres, a kind of igloo of the earth, a concept developed by Evelyn Adam, are shaped by hand: clay armed with straw and hung on a lattice of branches; impermeable canvas (livex, placed under the last layer); a finishing layer, combining soil, sand and lime, to make it waterproof; a Plexiglas dome and second-hand windows and doors. The cost of a kerterre is that of a few bags of lime, a few meters of material, a pipe for the chimney and a custom-made Plexiglas bubble. They can cost less when a stone base is installed. Clay is usually found at a shallow depth in the soil, if we don’t encounter rocks. If our land does not contain any, there is no doubt that there is a place close to us that does. The quantity of clay used in the creation of a kerterre is not very important, as it is mainly made of plants.
Autonomy in water and electricity
The proximity of a water point will be a great advantage to any purchased land: isn’t it fascinating to note that at the precise moment we set foot on a water vein, our adrenal glands secrete adrenaline and our thyroid starts working three times more? A phyto-purification station may be set up with reeds. It is a good idea to oversize the water and electricity needs of a house for its autonomy. A wind turbine of 700 watts for example makes it possible to provide part of the electricity in the absence of sun. The solar oven and the solar dryer are working with the energy of the sun.
The refrigerator system without electricity works with evaporative cooling. Clay pots, sand and water are building this system. The inner pot is waterproofed with linseed oil; the outer pot remains porous. The pots are nested inside each other. A layer of sand of at least 4 centimeters separates the 2 pots (diameter of 46 and 56 cm for example) and covers the bottom. At the bottom, the holes are filled with clay or cork and water is filled twice a day. The evaporation is happening towards the outside, the conduction towards the inside. A damp cloth is being placed to cover the top. The temperature inside the smallest pot decreases up to 5 degrees in comparison to the temperature of the room, as the water evaporates. This system is very suitable for fruits and vegetables.
In the garden
An aromatic spiral may be planted and surrounded by borage plants for example, which will be appreciated in the surroundings: the opening will be to the southwest. Some aromatic plants are planted on the sunrise side, others in the most arid places of the tower in spiral. Plants that like well-drained soils will be placed higher up. Parsley, for example, will be placed where there is a bit of semi-shade and more water, while thyme and rosemary will appreciate being placed higher up and basil, a bit lower.
Youtube channels around ecological living
Research on the level of alternative solutions for our housing remains an interesting field to deprogram the conditioning linked to our habitat (as with the movement of tiny houses or mobile options). Many channels are encouraged by algorithms; one of them being Exploring Alternatives where many individuals could be scanned for their structures of bones (there is a transgender aspect and masonic signature which remains discreet; the videos remain relatively pleasant to watch): we can observe a focus on owls, on the sun sign. We will also note that they are pushing agendas and beliefs such as the one that human beings are bad by nature or the zero waste movement. In itself, it is important to decrease our negative impact on the surrounding nature: it is a concern that occurs naturally from within and of itself little by little; it does not need to be forced by frequencies of shame and guilt. By reconnecting with our sentience, we cannot cut ourselves off from what lives around us and respect for nature and the animal world automatically flows, more and more, from our actions, choices and behaviors.