Spiti, August 2008


Ayyappan, training 11 people from Kaza

Janet Lancaster and Ayyappan presenting to ADC, Dr. Gupta
The Auroville Earth Institute was invited in August by Spiti Project to conduct a training course on the production of CSEB at Kaza in Spiti Valley, Himachal Pradesh, India. T. Ayyappan, technician and trainer from the Auroville Earth Institute went there and trained 11 people from the 11th to 13th August 2008 with the Auram press 3000. They were extremely happy to use this technology in the future for the climatic advantage and the traditional method of earth construction.

On 13th August Ayyappan and project holders of Spiti Project, Joan Swinnerton and Janet Lancaster, meet at Kaza with the Additional Deputy Commissioner, Dr. Gupta, other Government officials and their engineers. A power point presentation was showed on “Building with earth in Auroville” and they were extremely impressed with this technology.

The Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) wished to visit the buildings already built by Spiti project, as nearly all villages in Spiti Valley need an additional classroom. The ADC was convinced and he asked his engineers to cancel the old building permission for the primary school extension, which was initially planned with reinforced concrete, and to do it with CSEB. They want to build this year 8 classrooms at Kaza. Dr. Gupta also asked Ayyappan to design an entrance gate for the ADC’s compound at Kaza. Ayyappan made a concept plan with an arch that he gave to the ADC. Spiti Project will be looking in to it.

People in Spiti have been using rammed earth traditionally since a few centuries. Before they were using adobes, as witnessed by several beautiful temples and monasteries built between the 10th an 12th century: Tabo Temple and monastery was built in 996 AD and is the oldest earthen building in India.

Spiti Project is a NGO based in UK who works in this remote valley of the Indian Himalayas since many years. Spiti Project intends to revive the traditional wisdom, knowledge and wealth in this valley and the Auroville Earth Institute is helping them to achieve this goal with decent, affordable and comfortable housing that people can build themselves.

The Auroville Earth Institute has been involved with the development of Spiti Valley since 2004. It was first for the restoration of the Buddhist temple of Nako, built in the 12th century, and to conduct the first training course on CSEB at Nako also.

Satprem went again in summer 2006 to train another team on block making at Mane village. After one year of development and the demand rising for this material, it was necessary to bring another press in 2007, and to train another team to fulfil the increasing demand. Ayyappan went again in June 2007 to train a team at Tabo.

The introduction of CSEB in Spiti is for the Auroville Earth Institute just a mean to make understand people that raw earth is the most appropriate building material in this area of the world. The first step is to minimize the use of concrete blocks and replace them progressively by CSEB. But ultimately, we expect that people will finally acknowledge again the value of the earth as a noble material and one day will build again with raw rammed earth.

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