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Earth Construction Workshop for Kids




In the context of the devastating February 27, 2010 earthquake and subsequently the 2015 earthquake, adobe and earth constructions have been criminalised. Recently the authorities have proposed the demolition of many buildings built with this construction material, which is causing unrest in communities. Earth construction retains a special affection with Chileans, especially as they see many of their own houses and businesses stand firm in the face of the incredible natural forces. This contradiction is motivating them to mobilize themselves and request a ‘typical zone’ of adobe and earth construction in Canela to be declared, to protect these structures. Obtaining this declaration could help to avoid further demolishment and consequently present a positive perspective to begin to improve the perceived value of buildings of adobe construction.


With the objective to restore both damaged structures and the perception of the heritage of earth buildings, the Adobe Festival was held, inviting the Canela community and beyond. Activities were created especially for children to engage with the diverse qualities of this material. The majority grew up within the affected context, and with their own hands reconnected with the material most applied to new buildings in this area during the nostalgia of their parent's and grandparent's youth. Taking rubble reclaimed from damaged houses, they were able to work, play and explore. As the fragments are entirely composed of natural materials, only water was required to break them down into fresh mud, to form new adobe bricks with straw. There were no issues of safety for an activity which in other contexts might be seen as dangerous for children, instead was a delight to enjoy the tactile, messy and playful working of the material. This use of the whole body to work the mud, resulted in a tangible impact on the built environment of the children, as they built a half-scaled construction of their own, occupying part of the main public space of their town. 


Using the diversity of senses to interact with and work the natural materials, reclaimed directly from the building rubble of recently damaged structures, the value of adobe and earth construction can find stronger grounding in the community of Canela. The Festival of Adobe offers to raise the profile of the vulnerable but culturally highly valuable earth construction buildings across Chile.


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