We have learned many valuable (if expensive) lessons from our first round of construction with the Sepulveda family. Our Sustainable Affordable Housing design team in Nicaragua have been hard at work refining the blueprints for our second round of construction. The drawings, shown here, reflect the many improvements that will make the next house construction stronger, as well as better insulated, while using even less steel and cement than the first design. The foundation bedding uses black volcanic rock found on site. The floor is elevated by almost 8 inches (20 cm) to avoid flooding or the entry of volcanic ash in the event of eruptions of the local Masaya volcano. The walls employ double thick earth block creating a thermal buffer from Nicaragua's tropical heat. We will use "sweat equity" to reduce costs, teaching the home owners to lay block, using as mortar, the same earth as the block material. In addition, the walls are reinforced with buttress columns every 9.84 feet (three meters). Finally, the entire structure is held together with a bond beam ring atop the walls onto which the volcanic tile roof will be afixed.
The UNI (Nicaraguan National Engineering University) has partnered with SosteNica, hoping to use this project as a teaching and research platform for students and faculty. The leaders of the community Brigada 21 (also known as "Piedras Quemadas" or "Burned Rocks") continue to express tremendous enthusiasm.
Because we see this project as, first of all, one of empowerment, we will delay ground breaking. Even as the design elements are refined and put into place, we will be working with the community, including children, on issues such as gardens and food security.
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