The innovativeness of the SuperAdobe technique and the creative character of earth architecture in general prompts us to foster our curiosity and the sense of observation. Therefore paying attention to what, how and where we build is necessary. It is an ongoing process and it involves different aspects of the building.

One of Vide Terra's fields of study is dedicated to the adaptation of the SuperAdobe technique to different natural and social environments. More specifically, the exploration of NATURAL WATERPROOFING solutions. The aim of this research includes the use of local resources - preferably the excess materials.

Roofs are an excellent waterproofing solution. Not only do they protect the top of the structure and add extra insulation, but they also protect the vertical walls as well as the plaster applied on them. The two following projects aimed at finding a roofing system for the round shape structures - domes, which would involve the use of natural, local excess materials. So we decided to experiment with


arundo donax and reed

natural architecture superadobe and plant roof thatching plants for roof thatching
Our first thatching attempt was to use arundo donax (giant cane) and reed as these were the plants we found in abundance in the area.

Thatching a superadobe dome requires some prior preparation such as thinking ahead about how to fix the roof to the dome. We took advantage of how the superadobe structure is made. As it is a composition of layered rammed earth bags, we sandwiched a series of 3cm tubes between the layers. The tubes were applied to pass the wires through the walls; whereas the wires served to hold a curved beam which pressed reed and arundo donax against the walls.
In the first stage we attached a thick layer of arundo donax- canes around the mid height of the structure to increase its volume and to create a desired steepness for the next stage of thatching process - installation of reed. Once it was done, we trimmed the ends of the reed to give it a shape and to detach it from the ground.
 superadobe dome with plant roofing  superadobe dome with thatched roofing  superadobe dome, cocciopesto plaster and thatched roofing

check Vide Terra's Projects page for more pictures of the finished roof


 superadobe dome and broom thatching broom plant
The second roofing experiment consisted of thatching an earthbag structure with broom (Cytisus scoparius). For this R&D project Vide Terra collaborated with a true expert in the field of traditional thatching - Master Thatcher Alan Jones from Wales. The choice of the plant was suggested by the land in Calabria where we had built the dome. Broom, which is considered to be ‘an invasive species’ grew on that land in great abundance. All we had to do was to harvest it.

The preparation strategy for this roof was slightly different from the previous R&D roofing project and after two years we noticed that this solution performed better. This time we attached short pieces of a very strong metal wire directly to the barbed wire (which as a rule is placed between the earthbags). The pieces are many and are placed close together so that they manage to grab the pressing, horizontal beam tightly.
To cover the dome we needed two steps of broom rows and at the top we applied a good amount of lime stabilized earth.
 superadobe dome and broom thatching workshop  superadobe dome and broom thatching workshop  superadobe dome and broom thatching workshop  thatching an earth dome with broom workshop  thatching an earth dome with broom workshop  thatching an earth dome with broom workshop
After two years of all four seasons in the pre-mountain area (which means a lot of wind, snow and heavy rains) and with absolutely no maintenance, the green broom turned gray and dry but it still performs really well as a waterproofing system. The last touch to the dome was to cover the superadobe dome with cocciopesto - lime plaster.

check Vide Terra's Projects page for more pictures

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