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Truly local: New Vastu building constructed of 25,000 earth blocks from across the street
by Global Good News staff writer
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19 June 2012
Jon Lipman, chief architect for the Sustainable Living Center at Maharishi University of Management, explained how the design of that building was repeatedly updated and influenced by visiting EcoFair speakers.
The EcoFair is an annual event which brings together the brightest innovators in the field of sustainability. The event is hosted and organized by the MUM Sustainable Living academic department.
In addition to the idea of daylighting, the idea of using earth blocks was contributed by a featured EcoFair speaker.
Mr Lipman explained, 'The second [influence on the centre's design] was a speaker who talked about constructing buildings of earth blocks from local earth. It was something that really caught the attention of the students. The construction drawings of this building were then created such that it was assumed that the walls would almost entirely be made of blocks of earth compressed from the site.'
The idea behind earth blocks is that when a foundation is dug, that displaced earth can be compressed into blocks which provide the structure for the new building.
Using earth blocks for the Sustainable Living Center became a feasible reality when the EcoFair speaker visited the campus. A building site on campus had recently been started, leaving behind a large pile of earth.
Mr Lipman explained, 'We had cleared the site and pushed dirt into a pile. This fellow who came to MUM to speak about earth block construction looked at that pile of dirt and said, ''This dirt is absolutely perfect for earth block construction. It has exactly the right amount of clay in it.'' '
In response, the university rented a pneumatic earth block pressing machine from a company in Wisconsin. Over the span of one summer, students operated the machine and made about 25,000 earth blocks which became the structure of the Sustainable Living Center.
Earlier in his tour of the new building, Mr Lipman explained how its design integrates the principles of Maharishi Vastu architecture with those of modern sustainable design. Coming back to this element of earth block construction, he said, 'So the building was really almost entirely constructed of the earth from across the street. This is a kind of profound and moving thing. What could be more sustainable than a building constructed of the materials of the place?'
See related articles:
∙ Solar energy plays important role in Maharishi Vastu architecture
∙ Sustainable Living Center integrates eco-friendly and Vastu design
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