The actual building starts

So many things have not gone like we planned them. The first big project for our group, it is certainly giving us our money’s worth of life lessons. I hope our building will be like a lotus flower rising from it’s muddy puddle of an old septic tank.

A sample wall from the earth blocks of UPDF. Our blocks will be made without the vertical pattern.

The Compressed Earth Blocks that will be used in the walls are made by local organization UPDF about 7km from our site. We wished to promote this alternative material to red bricks, and originally planned to have bearing walls made with the bricks. Then we got a sample piece tested at Aalto structure lab and the bearing idea had to be abandoned. The blocks are rather sensitive to water and can’t be trusted with the important job of taking the load of the whole building. Now the basic structure is quite like many modern Cambodian buildings, a concrete frame with a filling material, but the CEBs add their own twist to the whole.

The canopy had fallen in the rain during one night, but was then adjusted to a steeper angle and has since held rain and sun alike.

We had thought that finding suitable bamboo would be one of the hardest tasks, but in the end one of CVS’s head team knew people who grow a sturdy species for structural purposes in the neighboring province. The first batch of bamboos was all ready and waiting in the pool while we had some trouble finding a supplier for the treatment chemicals. In the end we received the leftover Borax salt and boric acid from another community bamboo project here in Cambodia, Community Based Eco-Tourism Office in Chi Pat by Ahti Westphal and his crew. Check them out at their open architecture network page.

Long awaited chemicals arrive in a hot vehicle.

Lately our site has become too interesting. Local children find the piles of bamboos, the sand mounds and all the commotion irresistible. We will have to keep looking for a more creative answer to how to keep them safe, as putting a fence around the area is not feasible in this case.

The children want to see what's going on and the dogs find shade under the bamboos - sometimes it is hard to keep a construction site professional.