While on a Congolese mission with Doctors Without Borders, Thierry Perrocheau began working on the mechanical design for a portable, natural brick pressing machine. Now the CEO of Meco'concept, Perrocheau and his small team have designed a hydraulic press that transforms ordinary mud into structural building blocks. Since 2008 the team has distributed the Meco'press in France and Belgium, and they have recently seen an overwhelming interest from organizations looking to build in developing nations. The ingenious press offers a green building material solution that can function within the constraints of devastated areas.
Perrocheau told Inhabitat that one of his goals is to have the presses operational in Haiti in the near future. Concerns about portability and global shipment are addressed in the lightweight design of the Meco’Press. Because it can be operated with very little training, is easy to maintain, and uses mostly materials from the building site, testing has found that it can be used throughout 80% of the earth. The small percent left out is due to the lack of clay content in the soil.
Using only mud mixed with a binder material, the hydraulic press creates a LEGO-shaped brick in under 30 seconds. Lime is the suggested binder material, as it is completely natural and it stabilizes the moisture in the brick – eliminating swelling, shrinking, or cracking from excessive dryness. After the press is filled with the mud and lime mixture, 30 tons of hydraulic pressure turn it into a BTC (une brique en terre compressée). BTC’s can be use used for structures up to two stories tall, making them perfect for international aid or for eco-minded builders around the globe.
For more on how the Meco’press operates, check out this animation.