Creating a Bamboo and Mud Yurt at the Art of Living Permaculture Centre, Bangalore, India
We wanted to create a natural building out of bamboo and mud on our site in Bangalore, India, as this project involved learning experiences too. However, our professional colleague who was to help us with building this structure couldn’t make it owing to personal preoccupations.
Thus began our experimentation in coming up with a plan to build a bamboo and mud teaching centre. We came up with a simple Mongolian yurt design. We drew pictures and made notes about its proposed structure. A yurt is a nomadic structure used by Mongolians for over 1000 years. They are now being built as permanent structures in Mongolia and other countries, due to its simplicity in design, and as they are inexpensive and fast to build with natural materials that are usually readily available.
We cut bamboo from the site, collected clay, straw and cow dung and cut the tall grass nearby and then began our construction. These materials cost us nothing — we didn’t buy them, but gathered them from around the site!
Slowly but steadily we began with the circular structure, then used thin bamboo splits to create the wall. Then we mixed clay and dung and took strands of straw and dipped them in the clay/dung mix and pasted in the holes created in the bamboo wall. We worked on creating windows and everyone’s imagination resulted in nine different shapes of windows! The roof was created using bamboo before being covered with grass thatch.
We painted the building with a water-proofing compound and put the color of mud on it. Someone came up with the idea of drawing rural Indian murals on the walls and so murals came next. Someone else suggested to cover inner walls with old bed sheets and so we went ahead and did that also! Now the yurt is strong, and looks good from inside and outside! More than anything else, it cost us nothing, except our manpower and imagination!
I venture to think that permaculture fires up creativity within us when we’re practicing its principles.
Should you like to visit the site when in Bangalore, India, you may write to vdharmraj (at) ramaavenkatesh.com and we will be happy to show you around. You may also wish to participate in this project in some way.