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close this bookBASIN - News No. 10 July 1995: Reconstruction and Resettlement (Building Advisory Service and Information Network, 1995)
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Centre for Appropriate Technology and International Development Cooperation

artefact2 was registered in 1986, as a non-profit making organization for the advancement of appropriate technology and development in the North and South. Its main objectives are the application and dissemination of appropriate, ie ecologically and socially compatible technologies at regional and international level.

The centre in Glrg, which was built by unemployed young people and students of the ARTES course at the then Pedagogical University of Flensburg (a town at the Danish border in Northern Germany), was designed entirely on the basis of ecological principles. Already during the construction phase of the centre, which started in 1989, artefact organized seminars and workshops at the site for students and decision-makers, on different aspects of appropriate technology, especially in the fields of building and use of regenerative energy sources. During so-called “project days”, children and young people were involved in the production of earth bricks - for most of them it was the first time and an exciting experience. A solar, wind and biomass energy park is located on the centre’s premises. An “Eco-Tech Trail” already allows the public to discover, through experiment and various media, how environmentally compatible new technologies function and what their effects are. Not only students, planners and decision-makers from developing countries, but also builders, architects energy planners, craftsmen and other specialists from the region and neighbouring countries now have the opportunity at the centre to attend conferences, courses, seminars and workshops on ecological building design and construction, communal and private energy sourcing, water supply and waste water disposal.

solar power plant

The centre was conceived and implemented in different phases:

- The creation phase in 1986: Establishment of artefact; conceptual design for a residential cum seminar centre in Flensburg; formulation of criteria for actual realization and co-operation with the ThirdWorld.

- The planning phase, 1987-1988: Final site allocation in Glrg; conceptual design for a seminar cum workshop building as an AT centre.

- The maturing phase, 1988 - 1989: Consideration of the possibilities for using AT in the fields of building, energy, water supply and disposal, as well as healthy environment; transfer of these technologies to local entrepreneurs, craftsmen and builders, and to developing countries; fundraising and engagement of staff.

- The implementation phase, 1990 - 1994: Construction of the centre; local development and testing of earth building technologies; testing suitable equipment for the production of stabilized and unstabilized soil blocks; planning and implementing the solar, wind and biomass energy demonstration park;

- The functioning phase, since 1995: Formulation of a local, regional and international training and further-education concept, “commercialization” of artefact’s experiences with partners in the region. The official opening ceremony took place on 24 May 1995.

wind and solar energy utilization

The centre’s design, apart from its technical features considering ecological aspects, was suitable for "self-help-building". This means that whole parts of the building were put up by unskilled people, who were trained during the actual construction process. The architect, (G zur Nieden, from L mixed traditional solutions with foreign features (such as vaults and domes) and integrated both in an interesting complex, reflecting the functions of the respective parts of the centre, eg "training", "living", "meeting", "working", "eating". The separate parts were designed in such a way that their construction could be phased, since students and/or labourers were not always available throughout the construction period.

Most interesting are the construction details, which are all aimed at saving energy (through the use of natural insulation materials, such as earth, sand, natural stone, glass bottles, timber, straw, reed, or waste from these materials). Rainwater is collected from the roofs and used in the toilets. Grey water disposal is effected by septic tanks, followed by a plant-based sewage works (with the help of micro-organisms living in the plants’ root system) and a settling pond for further purification. As an alternative, a compost toilet serves to show how human waste can be disposed of without using water, in a perfectly hygienic and environmentally sound way. Energy for lighting, cooking and heating is generated via windpower, solar energy and a thermal power plant, the latter utilizing agricultural and timber waste.

Floor construction in the living quarters and guest rooms

1 Timber floor board, 28 mm
2 Timber joist, 90 mm
3 Woodchip-earth-mix, with addition of 2% lime, 80 mm
4 Bituminous waterproofing
5 Trass-lime-cement-concrete containing 30% lightweight aggregate (bloated glass), 60 mm
6 Oil paper as separation layer
7 Bottles as capillary break, 150 mm
8 Lean mortar layer, 30 mm
9 Trass-lime-cement-concrete foundation with rubble aggregate

It would exceed the available space for reporting on the centre, if all details would be described. The isometric view of a section through the floor shows some typical details. If readers are interested in receiving more information about the centre, kindly write to:

Mrs. Hannah Schreckenbach
P. 0. Box 5180
D - 65726 Eschborn / Germany

Book Reviews

Compressed earth blocks
Vol. 1. Manual of production
Vincent Rigassi, CRATerre-EAG
Aus der Arbeit von GATE
Vieweg, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden,
Germany, 1995
210 x 297 mm, 104 pages, graph., ill.
Language: English (also available in
Price: DM 36

This work reflects and draws upon the scientific research, experimentation and practical applications which have been carried out over some fifteen years on the production and use in building of compressed earth blocks (CEB) by CRATerre-EAG.

The book, which aims to provide decision-makers, designers, block manufacturers and builders with the tools that they need for the rational application of CEB in building, intends to enable the reader to take account of all the factors relevant to a CEB production unit, from financial planning and the various options available to acquiring the technical skills needed at each stage of production.

Compressed earth blocks
Vol. 11. Manual of design and construction
Hubert Guillaud, Thierry Joffroy, Pascal Odul, CRATerre-EAG
Aus der Arbeit von GATE
Vieweg, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden,
Germany, 1995
210 x 297 mm, 148 pages, about 340 graph. and ill.
Language: English (also available in French)
Price: DM 39

Designed with the intention of widely disseminating theoretical knowledge as well as practical skills, a large part of the book is devoted to practical examples of construction techniques and architectural design. It is important to provide a wider public of land-use decision-makers, architects and engineers, entrepreneurs and builders, with information and tools needed to ensure a high quality of architectural application, which alone can ensure the social, cultural and political acceptance of this technology, which is still historically young and not sufficiently known.

Structurally Optimized Domes
A Manual of Design and Construction
Gernot Minke, Kiran Mukerji
Aus der Arbeit von GATE
Vieweg, Braunschweig/Wiesbaden,
Germany, 1995
210 x 297 mm, 28 pages, 54 ill.
Language: English
Price: DM 19,80

The shapes of most domes built so far are hemispherical, or of some smaller section of a sphere, in the lower part of which tensile ring forces can occur, and cause a weakening or even collapse of the domes.

This manual analyses the structural problems of traditional dome constructions and shows how an optimized dome shape and construction technique developed at the Building Research Institute, University of Kassel, Germany, not only avoids these structural problems, but also reduces the amount of building material and costs, and enables any average skilled mason to carry out the work, without training.