This team is dedicated to helping provide a layout for the studio that we eventually built, and communicating the results of each step toward the final result.
Hector, Katy, Alex, Tamara, Andrew
Living in Pallet Town
While researching on how to build the house, my fears of not being able to finish grew larger by the day, as we began working on the land these fears did not subside until we began working on the walls. We were able to procure several pallets which we used to build the house. Pallets proved to be the ideal building material for several reasons: due to their shape, when mounted they create a perfect space to place the adobe and create a solid wall which insulates well. Pallets also served to speed up the process of building considerably since one pallet fills a considerable part of a wall rather nicely, which helped us save a lot of time instead of having to place several support beams and then affixing planks. Pallets are also rather cheap and easy to come by so they help keep the overall cost of building down. Pallets also serve a cosmetic purpose. Once the walls were up we came to the realization that the planks created a pleasing pattern and it was decided the pallets should not be completely covered so that they would be painted over at a later time.
As it so happens, before this experience I had a very limited knowledge of construction and architecture. The techniques that we used allowed for one as unskilled as me to learn the basics and to be able to build much more efficiently as time went by. The use of pallets allowed not only for fast progress but for the participation of all members of the team and was the perfect structure to affix the adobe to.
I was originally very nervous about this process. I don’t really know why I signed up for this specific team because I don’t sketch, nor am I any architectural “visionary.” I was very skeptical of the designing process because I felt very unprepared for the task at hand. The “idea” of creating a studio sized structure sounds cool and fun, but once we began our work I started to worry that we may not actually be able to complete what we start in…9 days. I thought, “how can a few you tube videos and instructional readings prepare us for labor intensive, hands on construction?” My idea of our design was simplicity. We need to keep this structure simple so that we can finish before we leave. This made me anxious–
However, when we arrived on the land, I saw the materials and the adobe-mixing “pond.” and it started coming life. I could actually breathe a bit easier, knowing that we actually have all that we need right in front of us. This is essentially child-friendly labor, all we need is the effort and dedication to this project. I became less and less skeptical knowing that Matias, our contractor/guide was there to help along the way. He had built his own entire home out of wood and adobe, so I trusted his expertise. Our design wasn’t put into place as much as I had hoped, but I was just happy being such an integral part in the building experience. Everyone had the chance to really sit down and understand each step as we went through them.
All Hands On Deck
Over the course of our learning cluster I learned first-hand that design and construction are two very different things. Before we began working on the art studio in Argentina, the design team tossed around ideas and sketches of what we envisioned our adobe art studio would look like. Then the actual construction and mud mixing began. Over our nine days on the land I learned much about construction and working with the earth. I had never built anything that required hammering before, aside from nailing boards in the backyard as a child, and the occasional “I’m helping Daddy” nail.
After one of our days spent working on the land in the hot sun, we were given the option to stay overnight and continue working on the structure. One of the best decisions I’ve made was staying that night and learning about while simultaneously experiencing the construction of a house. That afternoon I helped put together a floor made from wood planks and nails. Using leg strength to push those planks together while someone else hammered them into submission was certainly a different experience than brainstorming about design from the comfort of a classroom. Only from sweating buckets, bruising and scraping my body and using all of my limited strength was I able to understand what it truly takes to build a house.
Predictions and ConclusionsBy, Alex
After the basic frame was constructed for the casita/studio, I finally breathed a sigh of relief. I could once and for all envision the final product of our efforts. Back home I tried again and again to sketch what I imagined would be our structure, but never felt confident with my ideas. I thought about slanted roofs and sky lights, the color of the dried adobe and the amount of windows.
Once I stood back and saw the structure complete, I realized that as practical I thought I had made me ideas, they were still too complicated. I finally understood that simplicity was the greatest practicality, and that form follows function.
Then, finally, the process of rolling the hay filled adobe and placing it between the sticks and planks of the future walls of the casita began. The work was tiring and so much more difficult than originally thought, bloodied hands and sweaty bodies bent down to roll another pack of adobe…and another…and another. The process of smoothing and filling the walls seemed endless, for once the hard labor was completed, the tedious facet came immediately after. “Smoothing” the adobe once it was in the walls was more than difficult as random sticks and straws cut and poked our palms and bumps and dips were relentless in their existence. After one full day of filling and smoothing, the first and largest wall was completed. I felt incredibly satisfied, and we all left the land feeling rather accomplished.
Once back on the land the following day, I found, to my great dismay, that all of the adobe that we had spent hours smoothing had cracked and chipped like a dry desert. My horror was quickly relieved as Pablo explained that this was normal, and that the aesthetics of the walls would be restored once the final layer of horse manure and clay was thinly applied.
I look forward to seeing photos of the absolute final result, as when we left the entire structure was completed, but not as visually pleasing as I had hoped.