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Letters from Chile – the House Building Gets Underway

Editor’s Note: This is Part VII of a series. If you haven’t already, be sure to catch Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV, Part V and Part VI.

The site awaits workers in the early morning

The building stage of Miguel’s house has been underway for a few days now, so I figured it’s time to let you all have a peek. I’ll make this post mostly pictorial – but if you have questions or suggestions, feel free to comment/discuss.

The posts were all sourced from trees growing within
a few hundred metres of the site

Not that the dog could care less

Jose Carrión, brother to Javiera and Jorge, gets started
on framing for the foundation

The architect and builder discuss….

Wladimir and Santiago get mixing concrete by hand. The sand and stones are
all sourced locally (the sand from the nearby riverbed)

Minimal concrete is used – here for the nine structural supports
(as per the design plans shown at bottom of this post)

Stones are stamped down into the perimeter trench

Which is then laid with a superadobe base

The earth and sand dug out of the trench makes up most of the bags’ contents

Barbed wire goes between the bag layers, to keep them in place

Like the stones underneath, the superadobe bags are compacted by hand

Meanwhile, the posts are being prepared…

…before being bolted into place

It’s starting to come together!!

There’s nothing like unwinding around the campfire after a hard day’s work

Continue on to read Part VIII: a Little Historical Context


  1. “The obsolete 20th-century architect, making drawings, but otherwise standing outside the procurement process, might be compared to an (imaginary) designer of the moon-landing project in 1969 who might have said: “I am a designer. My job is to decide where on the moon we are going to land. How we get there is someone else’s problem, not very important.” The architect’s too-exclusive focus on the drawing as the architectural process is hardly less myopic. Such a definition confines the architect so narrowly, as to mace the architectural effort almost marginal. It all but ignores the architect’s love for buildings, and the necessity of involvement with craft, making, manufacturing, engineering, people, money, and public discussion.

    Yet architects did, in the late 20th century, steadfastly refuse to consider the procurement process at all, let alone to consider it as a single whole. They were rarely willing to consider procurement as an important theoretical and practical problem. And only very few were willing to get their hands dirty enough to get themselves involved in it.”

    The Process of Creating Life, by Christopher Alexander, page 552.

    It is so nice to see these architects not afraid of getting their hands dirty!

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