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And an other Newsletter, number 32 already:-)

Each dome is coming with it's own obstacles and challenges. Every time something new to learn not only about the building side but also how to work with people, and people in different countries. In some places yes means yes and 8am is 8am but in many places yes can mean almost anything and 8am could be sometime in the morning or... even not at all. All this is quite relevant when trying to plan to build something and lot's of patience is needed or... you can also choose to get very frustrated. I try for the first but the limits get tested again and again. Not that this specifically applies to Philippines... just to say each place has some unique things to get used to and work with.

When I reached Davao on 23rd June I was picked up by the trainees and brought to the master unit (land community) It had been converted to Training Centre as professional squatters tried to take the land. A big headache for the Dada in charge but the good side was to stay outside Davao city (very polluted) and on the site where the Dome would be build. Also all kind of delicious fruits grow there and coconuts plenty.


The climate is great, always around 30C (86F) not too hot and never cold. This was the rainy season which did give us some trouble while building... Also the big mosquitoes were kind of a nuisance... Especially when their meal time coincided with ours. Naturally they had many more meals than we.

In Ananda Nagar, India, the land was course sand, rocks and a little fine sand. Water drains easily in most places and the ground is solid enough to build without much preparation. The ground here was clay; rich and fertile but very soft and sticky when wet that became hard and cracked if the weather kept dry for a few days. If...


It looks level by the eye but in fact there was about 50cm (2 ft) difference. So that had to be filled

We thought to start the day after I arrived to get the materials and start building.. Ok, its the usual wishful thinking again: The ground was not level and we were plotting along in the clay for a 5 days before we got it close to level. Than just as we were pouring the concrete for the floor slab there was lots of rain. The almost dry and hard clay turning to mush. Still we went ahead as my time was not that long.

Just before pouring the concrete... the ground completely soaked And after, not much difference...

I heard that the normal time to let the concrete cure is three weeks so we didn't start the next day but the day after:-) And yes it cracked when compacting but now two weeks later with the almost 75 ton dome on it all seems stable.


First bags First cracks...

We had quite a few materials already but spread all over the place, fortunately the good Carabau (Buffalo) pulled a sledge to transport it. Actually without it we would not have gotten far, only twice the trucks to deliver the sand dared to come down to the site (and got stuck on the muddy road) After they dropped the sand at the gate and our Carabau would bring it in leisure speed.

Some others I haven't introduced yet... The vegetarian dog who starts wailing as soon as someone takes out the big knife (Machete) to cut the fresh coconut. He had to wait patiently till we would drink the coconut water and cut it in half so he could eat the soft meat inside. That is if we didn't want to eat it ourselves. The big 10cm (4") moth didn't eat coconuts but I thought it was an interesting photo:-)

We had 16 days to complete a small dome and teach everyone the basics more than enough time I thought but the trainer had something else in mind. He wanted something big enough to be practical for him and the assistant trainer to live in. Very understandable as there is not a lot money to just build and experiment but time wise it became a bit more tight.


Bathroom down left, kitchen up right. First windows placed


Already one week gone in preparation of the site and ten days left to fill 800m of bag with stabilised earth and turn it with barb wire and some measure chains into one big dome with two side domes for kitchen and bathroom. Further there were two fasting days and two days that we went down to attend the collective meditation in Davao; no work those days.

Well, we made it! The Kitchen dome was closed two days before my departure and the big dome one day before. The bathroom we had stopped working on to give more speed to the others but also this one we caught up with and almost finished! At this speed there was little time for proper instruction but still while doing most of the (6) trainees have now a good idea of the process and at least few will be able to build by themselves and guide others.

Now what to do with the entrance... And the idea proved successful


Looking straight up It's me:-)


The last bag

The dome is not the most accurate but the Super Adobe method is very forgiving and plastering will bring it all back to normal. Actually while working under this pressure I learned a lot of how to do thing more efficient and how not to do things... To transfer these knowledge and every thing learned earlier to the trainees is an other challenge especially under time constraints, but I feel it went quite well for my first session. During future ones I hope to prepare and develop a more systematic way and a simple training manual. I made a lot of notes of all the stumbling along which will surely help others. The last half day we could have finished the bathroom, but I thought this could be a nice test for them to do without me:-) The trainer fortunately agreed and we all went to the beach for a swim, meditation and a nice meal.

Most of the team Last afternoons outing

I could go in more detail but I think this is not the place, the photo's and floor plan* will have to do the rest for this time. In any case you will hear more on dome building as the next one will start in 10 days in Mongolia. And that is a place where no one has to be convinced about living in something round. They love it!

Still I have to get visas, (first get one for China and than get to Beijing to apply there for the Mongolian one) and make all other travel arrangements but I am very excited to go and trust I can get there without trouble...


Didn't get to putting the photo's till now. And now is in the University hostel in Beijing where I just applied for the Mongolian visa. Let me sign off with:

Made in China:-)

*Still to be added


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