I have just returned from presenting a paper at ‘TERRA 2012’ – the foremost conference for earthen architectural preservation and conservation in the world. It is a UNESCO-partnered conference that aim to broaden perceptions about earthen architecture in the world and to provide support for research and methods for earthen architectural historical preservation as well as ways to better integrate this into future building so that the tradition does not become lost. This year it was held in Lima, Peru – a place with a long architectural history and tradition of using earth as a practical and beautiful building material.
My paper discussed Education and it’s role in preserving these techniques. I feel our work with school children is particularly important in developing a healthy relationship with earth building, in which memories are planted that will encourage more ecological building in the future.
All of the talks were very informative and I participated in some great hands-on workshops – one was learning another method of wattle and daub very common in Lima (all historical buildings from the Spanish Colonial time are built from thick adobe walls with wattle and daub second stories for earthquake resistance) which uses woven cane as the frame and a clay mix applied over the top. I also learned how to make detailed cornice work from plaster-of-paris. The results are astounding – you really can make a million dollar home from mud.
I also participated in CRATerre’s (France) Clay Plaster Intensive Workshop where I learnt how to perfect the age old technology of lime-clay external plasters. Such a beautiful finish, the results were very impressive.