Long, long ago our ancestors lived in very basic houses, built of rock, or mud, or simply tree branches. We smile at their simplicity as we create modern masterpieces of steel and glass but you have to ask yourself, were they are the right track?
Over the years various vernacular building methods have been revived and given the benefit of modern technology, in our quest to build planet-friendly sustainable architecture for the future.
One such method is the Adobe home. Adobes are basically sun-dried mud bricks! These are then stacked, with more mud, to create think-walled structures that are naturally cool in summer and warm in winter.
Down to earth
This style of building dates back centuries in Africa, the Middle East and parts of America. Indeed, in some of those places, it has never stopped.
In Australia, amazing Adobe homes have been created, and have even featured on architecture shows on TV, such as Grand Designs. The Earth Building Association of Australia is actively working to promote the use of unfired earth as a building medium.
The Association is not just looking at Adobe homes, but also the use of rammed earth and pressed earth bricks, as well as old English building materials, such as cob, and wattle and daub.
The Association says that earth buildings represent appropriate, renewable, sustainable technology, and are exactly what the world needs today to provide safe, durable, comfortable and desirable homes.
Another material which is being increasingly used in building design is bamboo, the largest of the grass family of plants. Bamboo grows very quickly, providing renewable material for building, tools, and utensils as well as edible shoots.
Strong and beautiful, bamboo has seen a recent resurgence in popularity with builders and there's a good chance you have bamboo flooring in your home.
As timber prices escalate, builders are becoming more aware of the innovative uses of bamboo. In many countries bamboo is used for structural purposes, such as trusses, and as a decorative element.
Much research is being done into the use of bamboo, earth and other sustainable, renewable building materials, and while it's unlikely to ever become the norm, it's a great choice for many and is sure to become more predominant in the years to come.