Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Big House On The Prairie

Sure, she looks a little rustic, but the first building at Mariposa ecoVillage is coming along.

The last I saw her, there were a few long blocks of compressed earth stacked on a low cement wall. She looked like a giant lincoln log project just getting started. She didn't have much vavoom, although there was some promise.

But this morning I checked and was impressed. The walls are complete with openings for windows and doors. The roof is on and you can see how the ceiling will have a gentle upward curve to it. The structure now looks like something. She's even a little imposing in her sturdiness out on the hill northwest of town.

The walls are still draped with what's left of black plastic sheets meant to slow down the curing of the compressed dirt blocks. But the wind this morning, and apparently before that, was taking a toll on the covering.

After a walk around, it was time to go inside. Wow, there's a big pile of dirt inside on the floor. Wait, what floor? There was only rough, bare ground. Then I remembered. Linda Lloyd, the project manager, told me even the floor would be earthen. A highly packed and polished layer of dirt, mined on site, just like the dirt for the walls. But first there are pipes to lay that will carry water heated by the sun, giving off gentle warmth from inside the "floor."

The thick, solid walls will insulate the inside of the visitors' center for the planned ecologically sound community, so people with inquiring minds this winter can feel comfortable taking in the promise of Mariposa. The idea is for the 18-inch thick walls to keep the temperature between 62 degrees in the winter and 72 degrees in the summer.

I'll give it a couple more weeks and go out to take some photos to post here for a proper sneak peek. She's still not quite ready for primetime, but she's shaping up.

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