Building Team

This team is dedicated to group organization and work efficiency during our time on the land.


By, Caroline, Jessica, and Chris, and Claudia

Structure and Solidarity of our Team Work

As part of the building team, we had to structure groupings of students to better organize what and how things would get done in the construction of the adobe studio. When we initially began the process of separating our class into teams we were fairly unsure of how things would realistically play out. We began with merely putting together a rough outline of what categories of things to accomplish would need groups. Such things included a group to work with mud, a group to gather materials as needed, a group to be deal with the actual building, and a group to cook lunch/ dinner for the day. At the time we did not have a clear idea of what each of these would actually entail.

Photo by Tamara Siemering

Upon arriving to the land we were still very unclear as to the whole plan of it all but began working with the assistance of a contractor/consultant. The first few days we assigned people to assist with meal preparation. In terms of the initial building process and preparation of the mud, we did not have assignments for groups those first days but things seemed to fall into place and go smoothly. As the days progressed and we began to gain a better sense of the plan and what needed to be accomplished in order to make progress, we split our class up into groups: a mud preparation team, a building team working with the sticks and wooden planks and such, and a team to begin placing the mud on the house. In the end, the solidarity of our group as a whole proved very strong. It shone throughout the entire process. With or without a set division of teams and structure our natural charisma as a team made it easy for our class to work together as a team.

Food for the Workers

The food in Buenos Aires is good. In the city, at the hostel, on the work site, meat and bread was the foundation of our nutrients, empanadas were our salvation. The food situation prior to starting our building project; consisted of pre-made restaurant food, which was delicious but costly. Due to the location of our hostel, we were able to walk to get food without much of a hassle. Eating on site did not grant the same convinience.


As the “Building Team” one of our duties was to figure out how to keep the workers fed. This included figuring out what food was going to be served each day and who was in charge of preparation. Figuring out the meals was initially a seemingly simple task. We soon came to realize that we have very little idea as to what could be cooked and eaten out on the land, where it was going to be bought and how we were going to cook it. When we arrived the first day, we got a better idea of what we were working with. We had limited dishware and cutlery and a fire pit with a handmade grill.


Photo by T. Siemering
The delegated amount of money to spend on food during out time on the work site was 350 pesos per day, the rough equivalent of $50 US. It might have sounded like a little money or a lot, regardless; we didn’t really understand how to properly account for the cost of purchasing meals. The work site was a few miles from the town where we would be buying the food. As a team we had decided that meat and carbohydrates were still the base of our meals, with a salad or vegetable of some kind.

Pre assigning actual people to the meal shift for the next day seemed superfluous; instead asking for volunteers each day before Tomas and Pablo went into town for food pick-up. This system worked well and Tomas and Pablo usually ended up working with the grill, so the workload was pretty light.


There were some days when we decided to order food, empanadas or sandwiches.

Mud Hut Sustenance Experience

Meat – Chorizo

Empanadas
Make-Shift Grill.
Quilmes
French Bread Rolls for Days

For some meals we had grilled meat and made a fresh salad. Links of Chorizo and slabs of Colita (“little booty”) de Cuadril sizzled side by side on the make-shift grill over the fire pit. One night we had 4 whole chickens grilling. Fresh French bread rolls were available for making sandwich or Choripan. Adobe fumes infiltrated our every bite. Hand washing before meals… was irrelevant to its actual intention. The dirt and adobe aroma were embedded under our fingernails. Sharing plates and forks was a necessity. Cups for beverages were scarce so we shared those as well, as well as making some of our own. Sharing was caring; fresh food was made daily for fuel, and we managed to stay within budget.

Safety

Safety is defined as freedom from occurrence or risk of injury, danger, or loss; in other words it is the act of keeping safe. Our sustainable housing project turned out quite differently than we initially expected in terms of student-safety. The not so safety acts ranged from climbing on a semi-stable roof, which consisted of logs nailed over more logs to relatively cheap tools that began shattering and wearing down as we neared a complete product. Our group hired a contractor. His methods were extremely unorthodox but he explained that it was the only way to complete our structure in the small amount of time we had to construct the studio.

There weren’t any practical methods that would’ve helped complete the structure within an 8-day span. Matias, a local and hired contractor, used similar methods to build his home and explained that he was the type of worker who planned as he worked. Everything about the site and the materials we were using seems quite odd and strange but turned out being very helpful. Initially, the group designed a layout of working through adobe, wood and nails yet turned out to be a bit more complex at that.

My personal experience while building our structure was risky yet turned out healthy with all limbs and bones intact. In order for the roof to attain shape and sturdiness, I volunteered to climb onto a log nailed at both ends to 2 other vertical logs; a few others, myself included sat between 8-10 feet from the floor nailing 5-inch nails into the logs with large mallets. Although building the roof was difficult and a bit scary because it was so high up once you looked down from the logs, putting the mixture of mud and hay on the higher parts of the way wall equally as difficult. Some had to stand on stools to reach up to place the mud and cover the open sections of the wall. We all remained very cautions of the whole situation as other classmates watched out for each other and helped hold stools and our only ladder made of branches and wood for one another. Everything about the scene appears dangerous, however, we were each extremely cautious and accepted the risks. Everyone came out alive with minor scratches.

In the end our project turned out to be a complete success. No one was hurt during the process so nothing we did throughout the construction was too out of line with respect to remaining safe at all times.

Skepticism and Tools

Initially before heading out to Argentina, four teams were created. One of them being the building team, the goals and main objectives of this team was to make sure there was a steady flow of progress and efficiency within getting the adobe studio completed on time, and to have an equal amount of work distributed for everyone. Other objectives included understanding the different steps, techniques, and to ultimately put into practice trial and error to experiment this theory. Dividing the work between everyone was the tricky part, or so we thought, once we got there and actually got the ball rolling it all came together smoothly day by day. Thankfully, we had a constructor with prior experience in building his own adobe home as well as other larger adobe homes. 

Photo by T. Siemering

Walking on the land on day one on the site was both exciting and nerve wrecking. We were all so very thrilled to getting started bright and early every morning, but we were skeptical of the supplies because of how basic they were. We only had a few tools and a pond filled with dirty, muddy water. The tools and supplies we had were buckets, two shovels, gloves, nails, a machete, hay, water, plastering spatula, sticks, and three hammers (eventually it was two). We also had a saw that became dull towards the end, but on the positive side; we gained a lot of muscle from doing this meticulous labor!

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