This group generally deals with Viking culture but they have this great article on why the old Viking style earth homes were more suited to Northern climates than many modern earth homes.
Particularly interesting is how they dealt with keeping the earth off the structural beams.
These guys use cut sod more than they are using loose earth. I think this is the biggest difference from the typical wofati train of thought. So it's not suitable for all locations (I have woodland lot, so I'm still searching for my linerless plans) but there're loads of people living in grasslands.
And here are some other potent pictures from the article that might help wofati thoughts.
This last photo has me thinking of some ways to increase the drainage around wofati buildings.
To add a question to this thread, maybe have some conversation:
Can anyone see there being a way to use this earth-over-stickmat-over-beams method using loose earth instead of sod blocks like the article says?
I was at first thinking a wood shingle like covering, but there isn't enough airflow to keep the lowest layer of soil dry. Maybe with a more dense stick mat than the picture shows could hold that all in? Or would to dense a stickmat only reduce the airflow as well? In the end would there really be any way to solidify the lowermost layers of soil once they dry? High clay content first? hmm.
Another approach to this might be does anyone know of reasons farmers or grassland owners might need blocks cut out of their land? I mean if someone were to dig a pond you could salvage the top most layer first, but I'm thinking of how can I convince someone to give me their grass via blocks. I don't plan to do this any time this year, but I am going over options in my head and trying to highlight the good ideas, and also highlight why the bad ideas are bad.
First thing I was thinking was , could a person use some nice organic rich soil and then plant a polyculture of grasses and deep rooted plants into that to form a sod in place ?
Might need to make a thicker initial wooden mat, maybe with conifer branches, to hold the soil up until the roots could hold it together.
Not sure how much water leakage you might get while trying to get the roots to go down into the soil , following irrigation of some sort.
Hmm... Perhaps some sort of sacrificial burlap mesh layer would help at first, too.
Miles. I like your plan. You got me thinking of starting with a thin layer of soil, seeding that, then adding another layer and seeding that, perhaps you could do this twice in a season. (we have short seasons in nova scotia)
I think something I am realizing is that with loose earth there will be some falling thru at first almost regardless of how dense the stickmat is, and this should be planned for. But once the initial mat is built I think the following layers could be thicker than the first without any loss of soil.
Thanks for the link, that is a great read on one interpretation of this architectural form. I have mention Nordic architecture a few types and searches in Scandinavian languages with yield more and better information. I have also commented on a few postings that "wofati" style builds can be done without "modern materials" yet these are not as well understood or achievable by DIYer and first time builders as there needs to be a well founded understanding of these vernacular fossorial forms of architecture that only use "shingle effect" in stone and other natural materials to render a "dried in" living space that will last much longer than some of the transient forms as shown in your link (transient being one generation or less in endurance.)
Again, thanks and it was a great read for anyone interested in fossorial forms of traditional-natural architecture.
It's good to remember this is a temporary structure. I read this article a few times over the last few years and a friend of mine has been seriously contemplating building a wofati structure. We were talking liner alternatives and my mind jumped to this without re-reading it.
Still I think it's a good starting point for some, as there might be some looking to make an earthern home for animals, or any other structure that only needs to last a few years to a decade. Never-decomposing liners would mean cleaning up after the building passes its use, which after being buried sounds like a lot of work and you'd probably damage the liner. Using all natural would let you walk away work free and without added weight to your conscious.
I think I might have to try this out this year or next, only small scale. Like a-frame tent style. It's got my attention pretty serious.
Actually, Jay, can you point me towards any readings on more permanent structures? I know I can do a search but if you have something in mind that would be very welcomed! Always down to fill my mind with more ideas that I'll likely never use.
Here are two links that have some of Dan's work shown in photos. This reflects the "archetype" of framework and roof cladding that can be further layered with earth and other materials to facilitate a dried in fossorial structure like what is now being called..."wofati."
As for reading, I would better served to give you a "shot gun" of some basic sites on Google and let you do your own research (can't keep the teacher in me at bay for very long...sorry...) I have a post here at Permies I have been working on and need to finish on Fossorial Architecture and other Indigenous Earth Lodges, which will also have links. For now, lets see where this takes you and if there is any questions...
Thanks again, Jay. Keywords are worth their weight in gold, I appreciate the teacher in you for helping me help myself I don't have any real goal aside from curiosity, so you've given me more than enough to complete my homework.
This will make some good Saturday morning reading.
Another possible option might be woven grass mats. You could likely "paint" them with pitch to help preserve them too.
"Where will you drive your own picket stake? Where will you choose to make your stand? Give me a threshold, a specific point at which you will finally stop running, at which you will finally fight back." (Derrick Jensen)
I think the key for success would be in the TYPE of grass planted. I would think you would want to look at a cover crop type grass seed like winter rye. Not only is it extremely cheap, fast growing, has ability to stay dormant in frozen earth, and has a long growth cycle, the stinking stuff puts out a massive root mass. Of course that is why we use it for cover crops in the first place. I never used any of the other cover crops due to my location, but they might work better.
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