During a visit to Tucson in 2003, an old high school friend of mine, Daniel Snyder of Westwind Solar Electric, introduced me to designer and builder Tom Welpern. As the award-winning owner of Rammed Earth Development, Wuelpern has built many tomb houses in the Tucson area.
Woolpern lives and works in Barrio Santa Rosa in central Tucson, and the 800 block of Mayer Avenue is a major focus of his work. Here, he built homes that complement the harvesting of this historic district. When he first arrived there was not a single house left on this section of Meyer Avenue, so Wuelpern had to live outside the trailer while building his first home. He says the neighborhood was "a little rough" and that he occasionally sits in front of the trailer "with a gun above his knees."
Things have changed since those early days when people said that Welpern was crazy to build in "poor bone." The original residents now share Barrio Santa Rosa with, artists, architects, symphonic musicians and many other creative types drawn to the rural character of Adobe House.
Adobe's construction was first brought to the southwest by early Spanish settlers who were originally introduced to it by the Moors of North Africa.
An old decay after another piles up the dusty lanes of Barrio, many of them painted in vibrant colors that glow in the desert heat. Barrio Santa Rosa really does feel like a traditional Mexican town.
I, being a "creative guy", was fascinated by all this, and when Wuelpern offered me the opportunity to make some contribution to the Adobe house he was about to build, I had to say "yes."
And this is a treat to get acquainted with the pleasures of a small green brick house.
The walls are 18 inches thick and the floor is poured concrete with a radiant heating system built into it. I chose recycled blue denim insulation that is as effective as fiberglass for temperature, but even better for sound, and greener and more environmentally friendly so that it never poses a threat to anyone's environment or health.
I feel tight when I think of my throne room.
The paint on the interior walls is uniquely suitable as it is a non-toxic clay paint composed of earth pigments extracted from the desert landscape itself. All other interior paints are Non-VOC, so they do not pollute the interior of the house. I am always impressed by the alluring smell of toxic chemicals emitted by paint, carpets and other components of newly built or remodeled conventional buildings. It's the first thing I notice, and there's nothing in this green living, eco-friendly, battle house.
In addition to benefiting our health by not releasing toxins, natural paint allows the thick walls of the pigeon to breathe as they do not form waterproof skin between the indoor air and the walls. These walls can then act as a tank for the house's temperature and humidity, which stabilizes the door's climate throughout the day.
Adobe is not a very efficient insulation material, so an Adobe house is not the best choice for regions with harsh winters, but it is an excellent choice for the desert where it gets very hot during the day and can get very cold at night. This is because adobe has a good "heat mass", which means that when solar heat is absorbed from the outer walls, it gradually penetrates the wall to warm the interior at night. By the next morning, the cold night air cools the wall, contributing to cooler indoor temperatures throughout the day. This allows me to reduce air conditioning and heating.
Because adobe is essentially an inert material, the "toxic" content of the structure is greatly reduced. This makes the Adobe design, whenever possible, a very attractive alternative to Green Living. Adobe construction is a sensible way to achieve sustainable living spaces that are appropriate for us and the environment.
This is a very comfortable Green Living house and eco-friendly clay. It is a beautiful residence that does not place any demand or burden on its inhabitants; it feels neutral and enriches the spirit with its light and benevolent character.