Earth Home Project investigates the rising challenges people in Pakistan and
other developing countries have to face. The focus is on trying to find
applicable solutions for people to erect affordable and stable homes by
themselves. Architecture plays a crucial role in finding new ways of designing
by incorporating local materials and building techniques, thereby minimizing not
only the cost but most importantly the reliance on the economic situation.
Sustainability, understood as an environmentally as well as socially responsible
answer, therefor becomes the starting point of this architectural thinking.
The project started in Pakistan in 2011, initiated by Irshad Balouch, as a
response to the flood that devastated his country during the summer of 2010 and
the lack of support people in rural areas where given after they had lost their
homes. A land area of 160,000 km² (nearly 20% of the country) was hit. The
poorest regions were the ones most badly struck. 15 million people were affected
and 6 million people lost their homes. For most of them it is strictly
impossible to erect their houses on their own, the inflation in the cost of
basic building materials forcing those able to acquire a loan into debt for life.
Following a thorough investigation of the shortcomings of the houses which had
collapsed during the flood, the project then started working on a plan based on
traditional architecture, making use of local building materials available in
abundance: earth, straw, lime and bamboo. Those materials contribute to the
sustainability of the design since they are highly accessible and do not require
heavy machinery, hence empowering people by virtue of those materials being easy
to acquire and handle.
The goal is to spread the necessary know-how required to build stable
constructions, by involving residents of flood affected areas into the process
of rebuilding their houses, accompanied by skilled craftsmen, employed by the
project, and neighbors, there on a voluntary basis. The project (thanks to
donations) is able to cover the unavoidable expenses of some building materials
such as concrete and burned bricks for strong foundations, wood for window and
door frames as well as basic tools.
The hope is that this will enable the community to be more prepared against
future natural disasters and to be able to rely on their neighbors and their own
abilities even if the dire state of the economy is pushing them towards the
margins. So far the endeavor has been able to help raise 121 homes around the
area of Multan, which had been very badly affected by the flood due to its
position in the Indus river basin.
Working on the foundations.
Forming the light weight clay bricks.
Locals learning from skilled craftsmen.
Mixing the earth with straw.
Applying the insulating layer of earth and straw on the wall.
Finished insulating layer drying in the sun.
Working on a set of houses.