The first step of the construction of the community center is the floor. Pisco Sin Fronteras made a 6m x 8m cement floor. The floor at the edge is 50 cm, deep into the ground to be able to support the weight of the structure. There is water at about 1 meter under the ground in Pisco Playa, that's why we had to put the bags on a solid based cement floor. If we would build an earthbag home on dry ground, we would dig trenches and put 2 or 3 layers of bags into the ground to support the base of the structure.
We use polypropylene bags for the construction. Those bags can resist to a weight of 100kg. The bags have been tested by the company selling them. The first stage of the construction of the earthbag wall is to fill the bags with slightly moist earth. Then we use 3 nails to close them.
First we lay out a row of bags to the proper dimensions of the wall.. We put barb wire between each layer of bags to prevent them from slipping out of place. The next rows are staggered so that the joints are not on top of each other.
We tamp the bags to compact the soil and to make sure the structure is uniform. We introduce vertical pieces of rebar every meter of wall length to reinforce the walls. In an earthquake this will prevent the walls from collapsing. We install wood and door frames as we are building the earthbag walls.
The bags are stacked in rows to a height of 2.3 meters and then tie the wall structure together with a rebar reinforced concrete ring beam on top.
We fill up the hole of the wall with stone and cement to make the surface smoother and facilitate the rendering process. Also we use chicken wire in the corners to help hold the rendering in place.
We render the walls to protect them against the sun. The uv of the sun can affect the durability of the polypropylene bags. The inside of the walls could be rendered as well, but we decided to cover the walls with esterra instead as it won't be directly exposed to the sun.
The bamboo roof was constructed in the traditional manner, first with bamboo beams that were spaced 50 cm apart then covered with flattened bamboo and a layer of plastic. On the top, we poured a layer of seashell and cement.
This community center was constructed by a team of volunteers of the organization Pisco Sin Fronteras from November 2010 to January 2011. Thanks to the support of the community of the Asentamiento Carlos Medrano Vasquez. A special acknowledgment to Amparo Julia Cuenta de Pino and Giuliana Rosario Trulillo Cortez and Carlos Fernandez and also to the volunteers whose hard work made this possible.
Have a look at the video Pisco Sin Fronteras made about the construction of the comunity center:
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