My name is Lucky Tukana and I run a project making natural buildings in South Africa, using traditional methods blended with modern sustainable techniques. For my buildings I use wattle tree posts for the structure. You can see in my first picture me peeling the bark off the trees, boiling it down and repainting the tree with it for protection. I follow the the moon cycle in my work so, for example, when it is full moon I cut the tree so that the centre is soft and the termites can eat the inside. When I dig the holes for the tree posts I then scorch them using fire and bend them so that it is sealed against the termites as well.
Afterward I cut the small wattle branches, so that I can weave the whole structure to make it solid. For the roof beams I use gum trees so the first step is to cut them and let them dry while I work. I use the mud soil which is the same as cob and then cover the walls with this in 3 or 4 layers. In between the first and third layer I use a sandy soil, and the last layer I use cow dung and mud and compress it to seal it off.
We use everything from the land which makes it more economical and easier to arrange. We use thatch for the roof, which grows in the forest, and install it so that it’s level and compact so the rain can’t penetrate, giving you a nice solid house. On top I put windows so that you can access both the winter and summer light at different times to heat and cool the house. The way this works is that in the winter the sun hits the walls to heat the house so that I don’t have to use resources such as wood for heating, and in the summer the thatched roof helps to cool the house.
On the sides I dig trenches so when there is heavy rain it doesn’t damage or erode the house but instead fills the swales which then water the gardens. Inside the house, before I make the floor, I dig down and remove the rocks, lay down plastic and compact earth on top to prevent earthworms and other pests from coming through the floor. The last thing is to make a cow dung and mud mix to make it solid and then layer it with linseed oil. To finish I add another type of soil, darker and lighter, mixed with water, to create a paint for any decorations. This process is nice and simple as long as you know what you’re doing, and creates beautiful, comfortable and sustainable housing for people in this region and anywhere that these materials are available.
Happy natural building!