Using Indigenous Materials for Construction

Period of Performance: 01/01/2015 - 12/31/2015


Phase 1 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Widder Brothers, Inc.
825 Third Avenue, 18th Floor Array
New York, NY 10022
Principal Investigator


The class of construction techniques grouped generally under the term ???adobe??? varies widely according to regional climates and cultures, soil properties and the use of technological enhancements such as reinforcing, concrete, plaster and chemical hardeners. The purpose of the work proposed here is to develop a tool for assembling an optimized, textile-based ???just-add-earth??? kit: pre-cut textile reinforcing are used as building templates, formwork and integral reinforcing. This facilitates fast, economical and structurally high-performing adobe buildings for base camp applications. To insure the best fit between local soil quality, climate, structural requirements and building form, we propose GIS and algorithmic decision tools to optimize each kit to its deployment location. These decision tools may also be applied to other indigenous construction types, allowing comparison to their respective efficacy in the field. The ???just-add-earth??? kit consists of fiber and textile elements, which replace conventional metal reinforcing. It applies advances in natural and synthetic fiber applications to adobe, lending it the predictability and performance of an engineered material.