They leveled the ground, collecting its pure, red, clay mud in the process, mixed the mud with fine sand, then added rice hulls, straw, and water in a half-drum mixer. Marcus and Ami contributed wine and San Miguel beer bottles from their household to add support and filter natural light through the walls; recyclers contributed more bottles from the local landfills.
In Palawan, new homes are usually built of un-green concrete, then topped with corrugated iron roofs. These home interiors become saunas in the tropical heat. Paliza and Novela can look forward to living in cooler confines; mud doesn’t retain high temperatures, and the mud house’s double-layer cogon grass roof repels punishing sun rays and stormy weather. The home will also have conventional plumbing and electricity; Marcus had hoped for solar power, but the local cost of panel installation prevents that for now.
With their nonprofit budget, nonetheless, Roots of Health made the mud house a standing symbol of sustainable construction in Palawan. As a final touch, they even invested in natural lawnmowers; a family of free-ranging goats keeps the lawn short, and provides manure for composting and soil amendment.
Photos by Laurel Fantauzzo for Inhabitat