Hybrid Natural Building Materials
The thing is...most natural building methods are actually a combination
of materials. Like a stew. Each chosen from what is available locally and used for
its particular characteristics.
Materials that trap air pockets where insulation is required.
Sticky materials where a binding glue is needed.
Sand to control shrinking or increase compressive strength.
Fibrous ingredients when you need to knit materials together.
Most hybrid natural materials are made up one of two or more of the
following (hence the term "hybrid"):
Clay - super sticky binder used in a variety of natural materials
Sand - aggregate added to increase strength and reduce shrinkage & cracking
Fiber - such as straw or hemp, provides insulation & knits materials together
Wood/Bamboo - ideal for structural supports, woven elements, or cordwood
Lime - binder used for wear-resistant plasters & paints
The idea is to look at what is available locally in nature in abundance. Then
understand the performance qualities you need. Do you need insulation to stay
warm in winter? Do you need mass to absorb heat? Do you just need a partition to
separate spaces? Then select those local materials that will best accomplish those
needs. Scroll below to see a breakdown of some of the most common hybrid natural
materials and where to use them.
Use hybrid walls where you need thinner, non-structural
walls or to maximize the use of your local materials.
Here are my favorite books that cover hybrid construction techniques (click the cover to purchase)
This is my number one book on hempcrete construction, because it explains the science, the process, and the performance.
This book covers light clay straw construction, and includes inspirational photos, step-by-step photos, plus lots of construction details.
Practical guide to cordwood construction, including process & permitting.
Another good resource on cordwood construction, including critical details such as siting, types of wood and how to prepare it, etc.u need to know.
This book offers a trip around the world, highlighting a wide variety of indigenous buildings from every conceivable climate.