Adobe House Will Eventually Help Haiti Earthquake Victims
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A unique building is going up on a Rochester street. It's a construction method that was used centuries ago and could become a model for the future, but the building is already playing a role in a present day disaster zone.
Ron Drysdale is volunteering up on a roof.
"I'm doing what you call stucco, which is pre-covering this structure before it gets the final touch," said Drysdale.
It may look like something out of a museum: a house made almost completely out of dirt that was dug up on site. But it's nestled into one neighborhood on Rochester's Webster Avenue.
"It's first and foremost about youth," said project manager Sister Marsha Allen. "Taking young people who would normally be idle and problems and training them with the skill in building the earth."
This is a training site. Some of the volunteers have already been to Haiti; others will go in the next few months.
Nearly 375,000 housing units are still needed in the earthquake ravaged country. Allen says the people there are eager to learn how to build these adobe homes for themselves.
"These people want in," said Allen. "They want out of the brush, they want to come inside. So this is perfect."
The beauty is in the simplicity. Dirt is mixed with water and a little bit of a cement type substance. It's then put into long bags, stacked into an igloo shape, and sealed with more of the dirt mix.
"That can't be blown over," said construction foreman Ron Jurgensen. "That can't be burned. That can't be, earthquake can't hurt it."
Inside there's a living area, bedroom, bathroom and kitchen.
"Standard electrical," said Jurgensen. "Standard plumbing."
You might think to yourself: I wouldn't want to live in a home that's basically made of dirt. But the finished product can rival many traditionally build homes.
"For the people of Haiti, these are palaces," said Jurgensen. "Full kitchen, full bathroom, full everything."
Drysdale hopes to spread the idea in Haiti.
"Seeing all these people down and out, it's a good thing for us Americans, myself to lend a helping hand," said Drysdale.
He hopes it will eventually catch on here as well.
"In my eyes it's the future," Drysdale. "It's eco friendly, a lot less power, cool in the summer, warm in the winter. What else could you want?"
"We dug this from the foundation, so we didn't have to buy earth," said Allen. "This can be cost effective for people who normally could never own a home."
Just goes to show what's old can be new again.