Locally accessible materials is the basis of what architect Adam Bihari calls natural architecture. Hungarians knew how to build houses from what they had to hand or under their feet, said Bihari as a clay brick wall was plastered with mud. This wall was made 100 years ago, and should be around for another 100.
With Gaspar, Bihari teaches his methods to scores of trainees every year. In the yard beside piles of sandy earth and straw, a dozen watched Gaspar demonstrate how to make mud bricks. This type of soil is perfect, and its found everywhere around Hungary, said Gaspar as a cement mixer churned the ingredients. You can make one brick a minute, and around 20,000 will make a house, he told the group while kneading handfuls of the mixture into a wooden mold.
The centuries-old practice fell out of fashion during the countrys four-decade-long communist era. Folk traditions were officially frowned upon and modern materials took over, said Bihari.
More than one in seven Hungarians still live in earth-built homes, mostly in villages in poorer regions. Bihari said it is hard to counter long-held associations with damp and poverty.
Clays thermal properties make it ideal for Hungarys fluctuating climate of hot summers and cold winters. One of the camp participants who already owns a clay house but wants to learn how to renovate it, said her building is naturally warm in winter and cool in summer. Amazed visitors ask us where the air conditioning is, but there is none, she said.
Earth homes also regulate their own hum...