Hurricane Maria battered homes for three years which until now, thousands of people in Puerto Rico are still longing for a safe shelter that is resilient to the climate crisis. A couple introduced a new construction technique that would aid house owners in making SuperAdobe homes, a climate-resilient home from cheap materials.
Paula Paoli and Owen Ingley are introducing a new construction technique to help homeowners, especially those who lost their homes from climate crises rebuild climate-resilient homes.
The “SuperAdobe” are biodegradable domes that use sandbags, barbed wire, and on-site earth essential components. The construction basically requires diligent piling of the sandbags on top of another, plastering, and painting.
This type of construction is also used in building military bunker structures. It is can be assembled in a short span of time, with some homes just needing more than 24 hours to build.
According to Ingley, SuperAdobe housing is a cost-effective solution for people who have lost their homes from the climate crisis.
In an article in USA Today, Ingley said that Superdome House may be built for a budget as low as $1,500 to $2,000 in materials for emergency relief.” A small, more permanent home may be constructed for $8,000 to $15,000.
In contrast, shipping container homes and tiny houses may need from $10,000 to $180,000 to construct, based on HomeAdvisor.
Safe shelter for the climate crisis
The SuperAdobe house looks like an igloo. Ingley takes pride in that the biodegradable domes can withstand heavy winds and flooding of a hurricane as well as tremors from earthquakes. The materials used are also environmental-friendly as the materials are found onsite.
According to Ingley, the materials provide flexibility and strength. It allows the building to shift without cracking or breaking. The roofs are designed to be arch-shaped for it to resist heavy winds better compare to the traditional flat roofs.
Over several years, construction for SuperAdobe has been through several stress tests against rain, wind, fire, sleet, and snow. The patience paid off, as the SuperAdobe construction is on its final stage of assessment but the International Code Council, a body of construction experts and engineers that certifies standard construction methods.
Plenitud and CalEarth
Paoli and Ingley founded Plenitud, a non-profit educational farm, and community in the western portion of Puerto Rico. The organization helps build and promote SuperAdobe homes as emergency relief shelter for those affected by climate events like that of Hurricane Maria. The homes are also a cheaper alternative to other kinds of homes.
The bioconstruction of SuperAdobe homes is studied and disseminated at the California Institute of Earth and Architecture (Caltech), the organization that promotes the development and research of earth architecture, and popularizes the construction and the benefits of SuperAdobe.
Constructing SuperAdobe Houses
The construction of SuperAdobe houses requires special permits that are granted by a county building department. For a building to be allowed without a special permit, it must be approved by the International Code Council.
Before the ICC allows a specific building material for SuperAdobe Homes, a test to withstand a variety of climate crises like fire, rain, sleet, snow, and wind-resistance tests, among others needs to be done to ensure that the homeowners are in a safe shelter.
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