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LEHM 2012-6th International Conference on Building with Earth

 For practitioners and manufacturers, students and educators, architects and academics and all who are interested in the potential of earth as a sustainable building material, the LEHM 2012 conference offers an opportunity to see, discuss and keep up with innovative developments in the field.

The Dachverband Lehm e. V. is the German Association for Building with Earth. Every four years the DVL organises the international LEHM conference in a different earth building region in Germany. In addition to the conference programme and field trips in the region, participants will be able to exchange information about new earth building products and technologies worldwide.

The LEHM 2012 is the 6th International Conference on Building with Earth and takes place from 5–7 October 2012 in Weimar, the cradle of German Classicism, birthplace of the Bauhaus and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The conference takes place in the Kulturzentrum mon ami in the heart of Weimar’s historical town centre.

Join us for a Walking Tour of Historic Adobes–a slice of the cultural heritage of Bernalillo, NM on August 17, 2012

Members & Interested Parties 

You are invited to attend this TEG Inspired Tour!!

Another reason to be a part of The Earthbuilders’ Guild 

Join Today  

Walking Tour of Historic Adobes–a slice of the cultural heritage of Bernalillo, NM

 guided by Rick Catanach, Adobe builder and preservationist

  Starting point: The Martha Liebert Public Library

124 Calle Malinche, Bernalillo, NM  87004

 August 17,  4pm

Following TEG Board Meeting


The WPA Building

 Adjacent to the library, this restored two-story adobe Works Progress Administration building was built in the 1930’s as part of President Roosevelt’s efforts at putting the country back on its feet.  Known as the Roosevelt Building, it was the second and at the time, largest public school in Bernalillo, and now stands vacant.

 The Graber House

     An adobe/terrón residence built in the early 1900’s.  As part of a block containing Abenicio Salazar buildings, the Graber House is thought to also have been built by him.  The house is about 2/3‘s of the way thru a renovation being done by the Youth Conservation Corp, directed by María Rinaldi, with on-site guidance from Rick Catanach  and Francisco Uviña.  After completion it will become the (luxurious adobe) living quarters for the local Fire Department.

 The Molino

 A three-story adobe, with 27” walls built from 9 x 18” adobe.  Built by Abenicio Salazar in 1919, the old mill burned first in the 1950’s and several other times as well, leaving only the adobe and stone portions standing.  The YCC has been working on this project for three years, manufacturing the adobes needed to rebuild the walls, replacing the destroyed wooden elements-lintels, doors, floors, etc., and installing the bond beam.


If time permits we will relocate 1 mile north for the second portion of the tour.

Parking: NM Wine Museum (The Sena Barn), 737 S. Camino del Pueblo, Bernalillo

across from Flying Star, on the west side of Cam. del Pueblo


El Zócalo Complex

 The Convento is the oldest of this group of buildings, constructed in 1875, in the era of Archbishop Lamy. The Sisters of Loretto occupied the convent, and opened a girls school there in 1878. After the construction of Our Lady of Sorrows School (now El Zócalo) the building served as the school cafeteria.  Well-known adobe designer/builder William Stoddard did restoration on the convent in the 1970‘s, sufficient to keep it standing.  More recently, in 2007, both the Convento and El Zócalo underwent an extensive historical renovation, done by Michael S. Rich Contractors.  It is now used as an event and visitor’s center. 

 El Zócalo is included with the Convento and others in the Abenicio Salazar Historic District, on the National Register of Historic Buildings.  It was originally built by Abenicio Salazar as the Our Lady of Sorrows School in 1922.  A two story adobe, it also has the distinctive 27” walls of 9 x 18” adobe. Terry Lamm, longtime owner of El Zócalo, spent years in an on-going effort to prevent the collapse of the building and the loss to the community of this unique structure. It was eventually purchased by the county in 2003, and along with the Convento, fully renovated. It is used now for receptions and meetings.

 There are two other adobe buildings on this property:

The Sena Building, a carpenters’ shop, is thought to have been designed by William Lumpkins in the 1940’s.  It was originally an aircraft mechanics’ school and fell out of use when the ceiling collapsed.  The Sena Building was renovated in 1980 by Rick Catanach and Gaspar Garcia.

The old adobe/terrón barn on the property was the carriage house for the Sisters, and later a residence.  It was remodeled by the county in 2010.

 The Sena Barn/New Mexico Wine Museum, Loretto Park

 The Sena Barn, a two-story terrón building, was built circa 1917 by the Sena family and Abenicio Salazar. Originally a barn, then a stable for funeral horses and hearses, it burned in the late 1980’s.  In 2007 in a project overseen by Cornerstones Community Partnerships of Santa Fe, the old barn became the first YCC restoration.  For the excellence of their work, both historically appropriate and with an eye toward future use, the Bernalillo YCC was awarded the Heritage Preservation Award by the NM Historic Preservation Division. The barn features earth floors, interior mud plaster, and exterior lime plaster.

 Santuario de San Lorenzo

 The Santuario de San Lorenzo, the second building to house Our Lady of Sorrows Church, was built in 1857.  (the first was destroyed by flood in 1735.)  It was the main church until it was abandoned in the late 1960’s or early 70’s, and a new brick church was constructed adjacent.  As the conversations were occurring as to whether to tear it down or leave it standing, the old church sustained serious damage from a leaking canale, and all the windows were vandalized.  Adobe builder and craftsman Rick Catanach was brought in to do repair on the windows, which led to repair of the damaged wall, which led to an ongoing avalanche of repair involving volunteers from the community. From oldsters who had attended the church to youngsters whose parents had, it became a community project.  Today the Matachines of Bernalillo donate earnings from their dancing to the church renovation.

The Santuario de San Lorenzo was designed by Fr. Joseph Failon and constructed with 40 “ walls of 13 x 20” adobe.

It is included on the National Register of Historic Places.

 Please note:  The information above was gathered from various sources.  While The Earthbuilders’ Guild has made every effort to insure its accuracy, we cannot guarantee it.


Earth USA 2011 Message from the Conference Closing Session

Earth USA 2011 Message from the Conference Closing Session

The Sixth International Conference on Earthen Building and Architecture, Earth USA 2011, met in Albuquerque, New Mexico at the National Hispanic Cultural Center September 30 through October 2, 2011.
One hundred twenty participants came from fourteen countries and presented papers on various aspects of earthen construction. At the conclusion of the Conference participants worked collectively to prepare this message summarizing information, opinions and conclusions:
Earthen materials are globally available. Usually it is the dry climates that bring to mind Adobe, Cob, Sod, Rammed Earth and Compressed Earth Blocks. However new locations for earthen buildings are always being reported. This year the surprise came from Norway where historical adobe homes are located near Oslo. Other reports came from China, Bulgaria, England, Oklahoma and Texas. Often these reports are of a few, isolated instances of earthen buildings. Germany, however, has long been known to have at least two million earthen homes.
Earthen homes are appropriate across the spectrum of building costs. Homes are built at zero cost in some countries while in places like New Mexico and Saudi Arabia contemporary adobe is considered the premium building material for homes and monumental buildings. Several papers at the Conference dealt with innovations that can reduce building costs in those areas where labor is expensive. In other parts of the world, labor is less expensive and employment is a sought after opportunity for citizens. Working with earth can create new jobs for young and old. It is richly intergenerational and educational in nature.
Materials costs are not tied closely to the petrochemical industry. In New Mexico, the cost of an adobe brick has doubled in thirty years while the cost of a 2 x 4 wood stud, a similarly basic element of frame construction, has increased five-fold in the same period.
It must always be remembered that of all building materials, those of earth have the least embodied energy; their carbon footprint can be almost zero; and they are the most easily recycled, reused, repurposed or just plain returned to dust. Brown is the original green, the original back to nature.
Other authors reported on the efforts to codify the use of earthen materials in construction: There is much collaborative effort across the globe which also includes educating code writers and enforcers. Germans lead the way with thoroughly imbedded building construction norms in their national codes which will soon be inserted into the European Union standards. Australia, New Zealand and the United States follow right behind. In the USA, adobe is now part of the 2009 International Building Code beginning with 2102.1 where it is defined. There is also The American Society for Testing Materials ASTM E2392, Standard Guide for Design of Earthen Wall Building Systems. Adobe is included in the Construction Specifications Institute system as 04 24 00, Adobe Unit Masonry with two subcategories, 04 24 13 Site Cast and 04 24 16 Manufactured. This means that earthen materials are now mainstreamed from the viewpoint of codes, norms and standards.
Participants noted that earthen materials have cultural connotations. They are simply part of the lives of many cultures and while abandoned in many areas, there is a growing interest on the part of youth. New communities using earth as the basic building material are being created in Australia, New Zealand, Saudi Arabia and the United States. Most of the world requires great effort on the part of proponents of earth materials to preserve buildings from destruction in the face of modern development. Saudi Arabia has banned the further destruction of any earthen buildings of antiquity as a fine example to the rest of the world.
Architects, builders and dwellers have long had spiritual connections with the material and there are those who feel it creates living structures, certainly healthy structures without any of the chemicals often found in the modern home. The walls stabilize temperature and humidity through their thermal mass and porosity which promotes breathability and even phase change action as moisture moves in and out of walls.
Earthquake resistance is always a concern. Correct and careful building techniques go a long way to make any building safer. Age-old and new techniques can be incorporated in the design or retrofit to existing structures to increase their safety. Earthen structures are adept at resisting cyclones, tornados, hurricanes, fires, bugs and even bullets.
While all this is as old as dirt, it is as new as the next idea. Architects, designers and youth should be encouraged to create new shapes, forms and methods to create structures of wider appeal to more people. It need not be limited to the warm, round, brown buildings often brought to mind by the Santa Fe/Taos/Pueblo style; thoughtful, good design can increase its appeal while still maintaining timelessness.
After all, we call our planet Earth.