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Hyperadobe, Superadobe or Earthbags? What’s the difference.

What

Before we dive into this article, here a short clarification about why we use earthbag as a name on our website and not superadobe. The reason is mainly due to copyright for the name superadobe being used. We are selling primarly superadobe bags, so long earthbags but we chose the name “Earthbag Store” (Martin)

 

Superadobe, Earthbags, and Hyperadobe are three innovative building methods that utilize natural materials, primarily earth, to create sustainable, durable, and eco-friendly structures. These methods have gained popularity among eco-conscious builders and architects around the world. Here, we will explore the differences among these three approaches to understand better how they are revolutionizing sustainable architecture.

Superadobe

Origin & Development: Developed by architect Nader Khalili in the 1980s, Superadobe is a building technique that involves filling long bags, typically made of polypropylene, with earth. This method was initially designed for creating shelters in space, but it soon found practical applications on Earth.

Construction Technique: The bags are filled with damp earth and laid in courses, with barbed wire placed between layers for reinforcement. This combination of earth mass and tensile strength creates exceptionally durable structures. The buildings are often dome-shaped, capitalizing on the geometric strength of this form.

Advantages:

  • Earthquake resistance due to the dome shape and flexibility of the materials.
  • Utilizes locally available materials, reducing transportation costs and environmental impact.
  • Provides excellent thermal mass, keeping interiors cool in summer and warm in winter.

Earthbags

Origin & Development: Earthbag building, a precursor to Superadobe, has a simpler form. It evolved from military bunker construction and temporary flood control methods using sandbags.

Construction Technique: Similar to Superadobe, Earthbag construction involves filling bags with earth. However, these bags are typically smaller and stacked to create straight or curved walls rather than domes. The bags can be made of various materials, including burlap and polypropylene.

Advantages:

  • Versatility in design, allowing for a range of shapes and sizes.
  • Lower skill threshold for construction, making it accessible for DIY builders.
  • Cost-effective, especially when using recycled or natural materials for bags.

Hyperadobe

Origin & Development: Hyperadobe, a more recent innovation by Fernando Pacheco, is a variation of Earthbag and Superadobe techniques. It aims to address some of the limitations of these methods.

Construction Technique: Hyperadobe uses mesh bags or tubes, often made of raschel knit material, filled with earth. The mesh allows for more significant earth-to-earth contact between layers, creating a stronger bond. This method eliminates the need for barbed wire and reduces the reliance on synthetic materials.

Advantages:

  • Enhanced breathability of walls, providing better humidity control inside the structure.
  • Increased speed of construction due to the elimination of barbed wire.
  • Greater environmental friendliness as it reduces plastic use.

While all three methods – Superadobe, Earthbags, and Hyperadobe – share the common goal of sustainable and resilient construction using earth, they differ in their techniques, materials, and specific advantages. Superadobe offers unparalleled strength and thermal efficiency, Earthbag construction excels in versatility and ease of use, and Hyperadobe provides an improved ecological footprint and construction speed. These innovative building methods represent a significant step towards more sustainable living and environmentally conscious architecture.

Martin

Martin

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