Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living students study natural building and travel to the Texas desert to put up a 14' x 14' adobe bunkhouse made primarily from indigenous materials
For their October 2013 Natural Building class, a group of 12 MUM Sustainable
Living students traveled to the Texas desert, where they spent 11 days
constructing a 14 x 14ft. adobe house made primarily from local
Working with their instructor, MUM Sustainable Living
Workshop Director Mark Stimson, the students began their work on campus,
creating a plan and estimating the amount of materials they would need.
For the post-and-beam frame, they harvested and trimmed dead spruce
trees on campus. They also prepared and canned all their food in
Another major project before they left: learning metalwork
so they could make machetes for harvesting the river cane they would
need for thatching the roof.
The desert site is just north of Big Bend National Park, 80 miles from the nearest town on a road too rugged for ordinary cars.
traveled from the MUM campus in Fairfield, Iowa, via the Sustainable
Living Department bus, which is powered by biodiesel fuel that was made
by the students and staff member Steve Fugate.
Once on site, the
students learned to sift the soil used for the bricks, moisten it with
water, and then use forms to create the bricks. Once skilled, they were
able to make a brick in less than a minute. But then the 850 bricks --
all 17,000 lbs. of them -- had to be carried up a long hill. The
students formed a chain, and accomplished the task with aplomb.
they harvested local giant river cane (Arundo donax) with the machetes
they'd made. Tied into bundles, the river cane served as a waterproof
thatched roof. The finished adobe house will be used as a bunkhouse and
field research station.