We have five adobe earth building on site, including the girl's dormitory, the white building in the picture above. Adobe earth building is a low-impact technology that is durable and beautiful when properly done. Bricks are made from earth and rice husks mixed and poured into handmade moulds, which are then sun dried. The walls are painted with limestone instead of acrylic or oil based paints. The girls' dormitory is in the shape of a bean. Black beans are a major crop of the people in the area, and are nitrogen-fixing species that replenish the soil and are a great symbol of ecological sustainability. Every terrestrial ecosystem requires some naturally occuring legume species.
The boy's dormitory, below, is in the shape of a hexagon. We left the outside of this building unpainted to show the raw beauty that earth buildings can take.
Almost all of our buildings are roofed using imperata grass thatching, a locally available weed that can serve as an excellent mulch when it gets old and needs replacing.
Our goal is to build a mushroom house for under $100. We have started building it with our 2009 class as a part of their earthbuilding workshop. We used stones cemented together for the foundation (so we only had to spend $4 on cement!) and are using scrap wood to make the window frames. The house is in the shape of a snail or a spiral, which maximizes the wall surface area. This will allow us to grow a considerable amount of oyster and other mushrooms in a clean and organzed way. Check out the pics below:
The ‘hidden curriculum’ is the set of messages consciously and unconsciously articulated in everything from the way the teacher teaches to the environment and buildings that the lessons are taught in. David Orr (1993) explains that ‘the design of academic buildings is a kind of crystallized pedagogy full of hidden assumptions about power, about how people learn, how they relate to the natural world, and how they relate to one another.’ Our school has no walls because we want the birds and insects to come in and teach us their lessons too. The school dormitories are made of adobe earth, have thatch roofing, and are solar powered. We believe that these infrastructure choices are important lessons for our community. The students are currently learning adobe building through building a spiral-shaped mushroom house, which we will use to grow oyster and straw mushrooms.