Solar Village 2010 Update

Construction should start at Factor e Farm on about September 1. Out of nowhere, one of our readers from Germany produced this 3D walk-through of the CEB house that Will and I drew up in Qcad in 2D:

The 3D walkthrough is this:

Solar Village 2010 in 3D from Marcin Jakubowski on Vimeo.

Sound track credit – Mind Field by DJ Blue. Game engine editor used was Sauerbraten.

This led to a very interesting discussion regarding reality and virtual reality, and how massive multiplayer online gaming – believe it or not – could help save the world?

Start with this encouraging viewpoint from TED – that gaming can save the world – which for me was an eye-opener:

So the short story is, there are people making an honest effort to make gaming useful to society. In particular, one of our new collaborators, Isaiah Saxon, has proposed a new social media “real-world gaming” platform dedicated to the DIY movement, and is working on a major, mainstream movie, DIY in 3D: Make Your Own America. These are exciting times of convergence.

Back to the CEB house. The current concept is still a design concept like in the above visualization:

  • Double CEB walls, with 1-2 feet of hammer-milled straw for insulation
  • CEB floors
  • CEB stove – though we’d need help on this to get it done right
  • CEB rainwater catchment cistern – or at least a small prototype
  • Wood trusses for the roof as shown here

We have other CEB house plans from Susan, one of our True Fans. We’ll consider these more ambitious plans if we feel confident about our resources and about our building team.


  1. stu

    I think that you need to rethink the sandwich of strawbale and CEB. I understand that you are protecting the bales with the outer skin to avoid needing verandah roof, but a waterproofing precaution may not be a great idea as bale walls have been shown to need pourous rendering like mud renders to allow the easily compostable bales to quickly dry out if moisture does infiltrate. I reckon you could use the outer CEB wall as a thermal battery to warm the bales and assist them to dry out however you’d need to provide vents for the water vapour to escape: I think this will be key.the rammed earth has very poor insulation properties but excellent thermal mass, so the interior CEB’s are complemented well by the bales and will act as your interior thermal mass whilst the bales will insulate really well, but I think you need to design the outer skin very well.
    Moving slightly off topic, I think that you could consider cultivating bamboo for construction: fast growing and twice the tensile strength of steel by weight this material is just amazing and can be used for construction of houses, heavy machinery, you name it. Using cheap formwork you can actually grow 10 meter span roof trusses in three years. Excellent wide ranging book covering everything form cultivation to construction technique: “Bamboo, gift of the gods” by Oscar Hidalgo. Peace.

    1. Marcin

      Good comment. On bamboo – we planted a large number 2 years ago, but so far it is not more than 2 meters high in the best case. It’s not doing well here. I think we can hope for a max of 15 foot tall bamboo here, it’s just too cold in the continental winters.

  2. stu

    Also I think you could consider the issue of airflow: I think you need openings on the other side of the house to allow air to move through the structure in summer.

    Great work, you are an inspiration.

  3. Marcin

    The following software looks like an excellent next step – free (GPL)interior design 2D-3D software.

    Sweet Home 3D software

    We welcome any contributions submitted to us as suggestions of interior design – using Sweet Home 3D. This includes kitchen, bathroom, living room, bedroom – for the simple CEB house model in this blog post. We would also welcome models for more advanced interior designs, based on Susan’s house design contributions.

    We are looking forward to a sweet home!

  4. Franz

    See some CEB construction work here in Burkina Faso: the German director Christoph Schlingensief is working with the Architect Francis Keré on a Opera House in a village near Oagadougu. look at the First film on the German website:
    and on the english website:

    Christoph Schlingensief died yesterday of lung cancer. His dream will survive.

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