Aaron (middle) with Pedro Nel and Aida Delgado
On April 19th, Aaron Chevalley of Mountain View, Arkansas, concluded a month-long volunteer assignment with the Regional Autonomous Corporation of Nariño (CORPONARIÑO) in southwestern Colombia. CORPONARIÑO is the top environmental authority in the department of Nariño, charged with administrating the environment and renewable natural resources as well as pursuing sustainable development. Aaron, a LEED-certified architectural designer and independent design consultant, responded to a request from CORPONARIÑO to develop architectural plans for a “green”, environmentally-friendly structure to serve as its new sub-regional headquarters in Túquerres, one hour south of the city of Pasto.
|A wood-burning kiln used to harden bricks|
From March 22nd to April 19th, Aaron carried out several key tasks with input from CORPONARIÑO and assistance from a local architect. He first conducted a survey of popular construction methods and identified major environmental concerns associated with brick-making, the primary construction material in Túquerres. Among the environmental concerns identified were soil erosion, depletion of farmland, deforestation and local air pollution.
After doing a bit of research on locally-available resources, Aaron proposed three building alternatives that call for natural, renewable materials and which could potentially reduce the negative impacts of brick-making: compressed earth blocks; straw & bamboo modular panels; and earthbags. Using all three proposed alternatives, Aaron designed an architectural plan for the headquarters which includes on-site water reclamation and filtration, natural lighting, and several insulation techniques. Based on the plans, the area surrounding the structure will be used to showcase the variety of plant species native to the area to encourage the public to conserve their environment.
|Bamboo structure detail|
In addition, Aaron gave a presentation of alternative building methods to a homeowners group in Túquerres, encouraging them to use earthbag construction for their retaining wall system.
Looking ahead, CORPONARIÑO plans to acquire the tools necessary to build prototypes of each proposed construction alternative and begin the testing phase.