Back from the earth brick construction course in Kassel, Germany

Sunday, June 14th at 5:30 a.m. Erich and I left Klagenfurt, Austria for Kassel in Germany.  Erich’s car has only about 95 hp and we were pulling a small motor home behind us. After some involuntary detours in the vicinity of Munich we arrived in Kassel at around 8:30 p.m.

Next morning at 8:30 sharp everybody showed up at the  (Forschungslabor fuer Experimentelles Bauen)  Building Research Institute at the University of Kassel. Our instructor Dittmar Hecken greeted the 7 men and 14 women of our group.  Apparently women really love to work with loam.

We were divided into 5 groups, given a lot of documents to study every night, and then entered the round straw bale house where we given a very detailed overview of the sheer endless possibilities of working with loam. Each group received a schedule for the whole week and the time slots for working in the six different working areas. The straw bale house was used as a large seminar room and as sleeping area-dormitory for the 11 female students from the University of Trier, all interior designers. The other three women were: an architect who will build a school in Uganda, a wonderfully wild and very skilled mason from Berlin, and myself.

In the afternoon Dittmar took us through the entire test area and explained the various buildings that had been erected there by various student groups. Very impressive and somewhat frightening because all of us would be working on those buildings during the next days.

I had asked Dittmar if it was alright to videotape some (a lot!) of the work we would be doing. He is a very easy going guy and gave me permission. You’ll see a lot of him as soon as the videos have been transferred to a DVD and shipped out to Marcin at the farm.

Later in the afternoon every group started to assemble the tools needed for next mornings project. My group had to start with plastering the outside wall of the straw bale house.  In the evening the 11 students, Erich and I had an impromptu party with everybody pitching in some food, beer, wine.

Sleeping in the mobile home was a new experience for me but I slept like a log. Tuesday morning we should be ready for work at 8:30 a.m.  I wondered if everyone would make it on time….

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