The following was written by Evan while he was interning with us in 2010 after working with our local partners to create an eco-friendly mud brick guest house in Isaan, Thailand.
During my stay interning with Mundo Exchange in Nong Khai, Thailand, I spent close to three weeks working with Mundo and local Thai host Gyb to produce mud bricks, which will be used to build a guest-house. Mud bricks are a remarkably efficient and incredibly effective building material. These sustainable bricks require few resources and are very simple to construct. The bricks are durable and weatherproof making them ideal for Thai climate.
Because of these reasons, we feel strongly in sharing the art of mud brick making with the people of Isaan and people around the world who do not have the capitol to purchase relatively expensive building materials such as lumber and metals. Therefore, mud bricking is a cheap and environmental friendly way for anyone to recycle and reuse local materials in building safe and secure housing.
Creating the bricks was hard work but fun too. My experience was dirty and physically demanding, but always fun and rewarding. I worked under the terrific mentoring of Gyb and alongside Mundo Exchange Thai Host Prayoon. Gyb had already worked hard in perfecting the model mud brick and had the procedure down to an exact science. We spent the first two days learning the technique for mud brick making and in only about 4 hours of work we were able to produce almost 40 mud bricks! After filling our quota, and more, of mud bricks, we turned out attention towards working on the foundation. Battling fierce red tree ants, we successfully set up wooden and bamboo foundation poles and filled the space in between the poles with mud evened-out enough for brick laying. We then were able to cement in, with mud of course, our mud bricks stacking them 7 layers high.
Seeing your creation start to take place is rewarding. The memorable moment of stepping back to examine our progress will stick with me for the rest of my life.
My stint with Gyb proved to be eye-opening and exciting! Few tools are required and the material and procedure list are short enough for anyone with a desire for mud-bricking to follow. It is also important to note that these conditions, while idyllic for our situation in Nong Khai, may not be the best for other environments around the world. Therefore, this model presented should be tweaked and experimented with according to the local resources readily available.