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New Vastu building's walls made from local earth
by Global Good News staff writer
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19 June 2012
The new Sustainable Living Center at Maharishi University of Management was truly a community undertaking. Jon Lipman, chief architect for the building, explained how its design evolved based on the latest sustainable technologies and on the inspirational ideas brought to light by speakers at the EcoFair conference.
The EcoFair is a yearly event held by Maharishi University of Management which brings together innovators and leaders in the field of sustainability. During the span of a long weekend, these leaders can share the newest and most successful developments in their field.
In addition to providing the ideas of daylighting and earth blocks, another EcoFair speaker elaborated on earth plasters. In most cases, the finishing plaster on walls can be made of local earth.
Mr Lipman explained that with the Sustainable Living Center, once the earth blocks were in place, plaster was applied.
'These blocks were then plastered with earth from the site. With such a high clay content, the earth, with just a few things added [including] straw, could become a really good base plaster. So all the walls of this building then were plastered with locally created plaster.'
But this was just the base coat. Because the building relies upon daylighting for most of its lighting needs, the finished coat needed to be very white. With daylighting it is necessary to bounce sunlight around to make the rooms as bright as possible.
The building's designers found a clay in Georgia which is very white. This clay became the finishing plaster on the Sustainable Living Center's walls.
'As a consequence,' Mr Lipman remarked, 'almost all of the wall material in this building is earth or clay.'
He believes the use of earth creates a unique feeling.
'There's a different feeling inside these buildings than in conventional American wood frame houses. Wood frame houses are not so solid and they actually have hollow walls, filled with insulation. My own experience is that I feel a kind of solidity when I'm in buildings that have thick, solid earth walls. . . . I think it will be very good for education and learning to have that kind of solidity.'
This element is one of several that highlight the new building's unique integration of sustainable design features in an overall approach of Maharishi Vastu architecture, which is drawing great interest from many directions.
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