In March we completed the Tingo Sustainable House Project. The community provided labor and land, and several Peace Corps Ecuador Volunteers assisted with construction, which began in February. The completed house includes an East-facing solar bottle wall, composting toilet, rain catchment system, clean wood-burning stove, and natural straw-ventilation for the roof. We also experimented with an alternative, naturally insulated form for the concrete floor. Perforated brick partition walls separate interior spaces but allow maximum sunlight to filter through the house, which is organized into an entrance hall, kitchen and bedroom, with an attached bathroom. We hope that this simple but considered program will shape how new homes built in the area; typically, local houses lack even basic space-planning.
Extra bricks, unused in the building construction, will be donated to the community for clean stoves in existing houses. We hope that the low cost of several building elements included in the house (straw insulation, wood stoves, insulated concrete floors) will encourage residents to copy those techniques in future construction. It is probably unlikely that other elements of the house – bottle walls, brick masonry – will be replicated elsewhere, however, and our final price-tag of $2900 slightly exceeds our original budget and average costs for local homes.
We hope the finished building will promote the nascent community tourism initiative developed by indigenous residents in the area, and provide temporary housing for volunteers working in Tingo.