Bajareque Cabin Build – Part 1

We began building in early 2012 – this is the first of the cabins for The Yoga Forest, a yoga and permaculture retreat centre in San Marcos La Laguna on Lake Atitlan Guatemala.

The view from the cabin-to-be:

Starting the cut:

…and fill:

Excavating for the reinforced concrete foundations:

While reinforced concrete isn’t very natural, it was the only foundation that I and the lead builder felt comfortable with on such a steep slope. I’ve since learnt more about natural foundations and how to work with slopes so the next cabin (immediately next door) will have a lot less concrete and steel in its foundations.

We hit some hard dirt in some of these holes, which at least makes for a solid foundation, if not an easy dig:

One of the concrete footings – 1.75m deep to eliminate the effects of soil creep on such a steep slope:

The foundations complete, for now
– we intend to dig a french drain one day but at this point we just wanted to get the cabin up:

Now we can start with the more natural part of the build!

The structure is bajareque (pronounced ba-ha-reck-kay – read my earlier post about it here). In short, it’s a hardwood post frame, strapped on both sides of each post with many lengths of thin bamboo that are tied on with a fibre extracted from the leaves of the Sisal agave cactus. The void space is then filled with rocks and an earthen mortar, making a very affordable, natural and earthquake-resistant house.

They can be very beautiful too and that’s what we’re planning for this cabin.

Here’s the frame up and the bamboo going up:

This post is getting a bit big now, so read on in Part 2…

 

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