PROJECT SSSH: BUILDING HOMES FROM MUD
The outside resembles those of houses you’ve seen in the movie “The Hobbit”. But inside this hobbit-like dome is a Grecian-themed interior with white walls and crafted arched windows. It charms you with a light, airy, and cool ambiance while the landscape makes sure to convey modernity and old fashion at the same time—-this is the vision of the earth home prototype currently being built in Sta. Lourdes, Puerto Princesa surrounded by a lush vegetable garden.
Aside from the unique architectural design and imposing size, what makes this home different from those of the hobbits in New Zealand is that this dome is made of mud.
The cost of materials for building the terra cotta domes is lesser than using steel and concrete. However, labor cost eats up the budget when it comes to this type of infrastructure as the manual process could be so tedious. Mud houses possess excellent insulating properties and are convenient for tropical areas especially in the summer.
This earth dome is one of the prototypes being built for the Project SHHH (pronounced Shhhhh) that stands for Solar Self Sustaining Homes.
Founded by Dr. Shannon Burns, an American chiropractor, this non-profit organization aims to build a village with at least 40 homes powered by solar energy.
The dome home is being built with bricks made out of mud mixed with sand and cement. These bricks are stacked in a circular form and continued to be packed into a mold. This type of building possesses a very strong and sturdy structure compared to other houses, and is known to be resilient to earthquakes.
Nearly 4 years ago, an earthquake hit Nepal where entire villages were flattened as houses and other infrastructure were destroyed. But in a rural village in Sangachok, orientation, maximizing the area of the location. Because the method involves the use of little space and produces in an indoor environment, it is popular for rooftop or other urban areas.
Dr. Burns also mentioned the proposal for water recycling. “Where I live, in Irvine, California, if you go to the bathroom, you might as well be able to drink the water. In the village [we will build], we would recapture most of the rainwater [for processing],” he says. “We can reuse the water for washing dishes, showering, and in the bathroom.”
Project SHHH is estimated to one building remained standing--a teaching center made out of rice bags filled with soil, which are laid out like bricks, covered with wire and plastered over. This was the inspiration behind the blueprint of the earth dome for the project.
Another thing that makes the project unique is Vertical Farming. It is a farming method where the plants are grown in a vertical be a 5 to 7-year project and is in need of support from volunteers. It also needs pieces of land on which to build the project. Currently, they have submitted a proposal and are in the hopes land will be granted by the office of the Governor Jose Alvarez.
A lawyer, Atty. TJ Marta, has also extended his help and assured the team that they will work hand in hand to build the sustainable village- first, by working on to deliver at least a hectare of land.
Dr. Burns, with his board members Ercilda Apura (a Filipino nurse), John Mooney, Richard Baskerville, and Engr. Andrew Gardner, worked hand-in-hand to continue the vision for this project.
“What we are trying to do is we’re going to build an environment that is different than everything else is there,” he explained. “I want to [build] a village where we can lift the people up… Maybe just a little bit.”
You may follow their progress on Facebook: Homes for Hope Philippines. For a tax deductible donation, you may visit their website at www.homesforhopeph.weebly.com