Posts Tagged ‘Tiny House’

@MaharishiU Sustainable Living students build adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

December 19, 2013

MUM Students Build Adobe House From Natural Desert Materials

Maharishi University’s Sustainable Living students study natural building and travel to the Texas desert to put up a 14′ x 14′ adobe bunkhouse made primarily from indigenous materials mum.edu/AdobeHousePR

MUM students build adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

MUM students build adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

As a continuation of the Sustainable Living Program at Maharishi University of Management where students learn how to build a tiny house, a group of 12 students traveled to the Texas desert during their October Natural Building class and spent 11 days putting up a 14 x 14 adobe house made primarily from local materials.

They first made 850 adobe bricks from soil near the construction site, created a frame of posts and beams from dead spruce trees harvested beforehand on campus, and then topped the structure with a waterproof thatched roof made of river cane.

“It really has an amazing feel,” said course instructor Mark Stimson. “It’s rectilinear and oriented toward the cardinal directions, and adobe walls give it an ancient, grounded feeling.”

Intended to serve as a bunkhouse for future visitors, it sits on land owned by Mr. Stimson and his wife that’s adjacent to Big Bend National Park. Also on site is a tiny house students built last year.

In addition to learning practical construction skills, the students had the opportunity to experience an extraordinary landscape that includes deep vertical canyons, distant mountains, and rock-outcroppings dating back 500 million years, fossils, petrified wood, and a hot spring on the Rio Grande River. Plus the occasional tarantula and scorpion.

“The students had a transformative experience,” Mr. Stimson said. “They’ve never seen anything like this desert, with its vast scale. The heights and distances reset your perspective on things.”

Mr. Stimson’s desert site is 80 miles from the nearest town on a road too rugged for ordinary cars. The students prepared and canned all their food in advance. That alone was a learning exercise in planning and execution.

They traveled to the site via the Sustainable Living Department bus powered by biodiesel fuel that was made by the students and staff member Steve Fugate.

Every aspect of the construction required learning new skills. The students began their work on campus, creating a plan and estimating the amount of materials they would need.

Once on site, the students learned to sift the soil used for the bricks, moisten it with water, and then use forms to create the bricks. Once skilled, they were able to make a brick in less than a minute.

But then the bricks, all 17,000 lbs. of them, had to be carried up a long hill. The students formed a chain, and accomplished the task with aplomb.

“The students were confronted with many challenges in this remote desert region,” said Stimson, “but in the process they learned a lot about teamwork, leadership, self-sufficiency, and how to be flexible in the changing conditions they encountered.”

He related an incident of the students trying to prepare and dry adobe bricks, when an early morning desert fog prevented the sun from drying them out. It happened three or four days in a row. Of the many things they planned for, he said, the desert wasn’t one of them! But the sun burned it off by noon each day, and the adobe blocks dried enough to be used.

In order to comply with Maharishi Vedic℠ architecture, they learned how to perfectly align the building by using the North Star and the meridian transit off the sun.

“It’s within a quarter or even one-eighth of a degree of being perfectly aligned,” Mr. Stimson said.

He said his desert site is intended to serve as a retreat for campus groups and students in other departments, as well as the Sustainable Living students.

MUM students complete adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

MUM students complete adobe house from scratch in Texas desert

Commenting on the success of this course and the happiness of the students who participated in it, Professor Lonnie Gamble, Co-Director of the Sustainable Living Department said, “They’re happy because they’re taking their part in creating the world that they want to live in. I think it brings out a great joy, a great satisfaction, something that many of them have been looking for at other institutions before they’ve come here.” http://link.mum.edu/AdobeHouse

Part of this report was taken from The Review, Vol. 29, #6, November 27, 2013. For more information visit http://link.mum.edu/AdobeHousePR.

Read the description under this video posted on the MaharishiUniversity YouTube channel with more details describing how the students prepared for their trip, built their tools when they got there, gathered and processed the local materials to construct the adobe house.

Founded in 1971, Maharishi University of Management (MUM) offers Consciousness-Based℠ Education, a traditional academic curriculum enhanced with self-development programs like the Transcendental Meditation® technique. Students are encouraged to follow a more sustainable routine of study, socializing and rest without the typical college burnout. All aspects of campus life nourish the body and mind, including organic vegetarian meals served fresh daily. Located in Fairfield, Iowa, MUM is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission and offers bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees in the arts, sciences, humanities, and business. Visitors Weekends are held throughout the year. For more information, call the Admissions Office at 800-369-6480 or visit http://www.mum.edu.

Source: PRWeb: http://www.prweb.com/releases/MUM-SL/AdobeHouse/prweb11363060.htm

Students build tiny house in M.U.M.’s Sustainable Living Program — Andy Hallman, Fairfield Ledger

May 16, 2013

Students build tiny house

Article and Photos by ANDY HALLMAN | May 16, 2013

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A class at Maharishi University of Management is building a “tiny house,” just 12-feet-by-20-feet, for one of its teaching assistants to live in.

The class is appropriately called “Tiny Houses” and is taught out of the Sustainable Living Department. The teaching assistant and M.U.M. student who will live in the house is Heather Caldwell, who will share the tiny home with her daughter, Ellie, and son, Henry.

Ellie said the house “looks awesome.”

“There’s not excess space, so it’s going to encourage us to go outside more,” she said.

Henry said he thought the house would be bigger than it seemed Wednesday.

“I’m thinking of having a hatch in my room so I can go out onto the roof,” he said. “I think I’ll get used to the size of it.”

Caldwell and her family plan to move into the house in June.

The eight-member class is a little more than two weeks old. Caldwell designed a floor plan for the home. The entire class built walls and a floor according to Caldwell’s specifications. Wednesday afternoon, the class wanted to see the fruits of its labor so it assembled the floor and walls outside the library on the M.U.M. campus.

No heavy machinery was used to install the walls. About 12 people, including the class members and a few stray volunteers, hoisted the walls into place by hand.

Wednesday’s construction project was simply a demonstration to show Caldwell and the class what the tiny house would look like once it’s done. The class will disassemble the house and move it to its more permanent location near Abundance EcoVillage.

Mark Stimson, head of the building track in the M.U.M. Sustainable Living Program, is the professor for the class. He said his class’s project is part of a growing movement of people building small homes. One of the reasons people are turning to such tiny houses is financial.

“You can build your own home for just a few thousand dollars,” he said. “You can live without a mortgage. It’s a lifestyle and priority choice. If your priority is not to be a slave to your house but to live in a nice, tight, comfortable little house, and spend your money on other things, then you might consider building a tiny house.”

Stimson said Caldwell spent about $4,000 on building materials for the home.

Another major reason people choose to build small dwellings is to conserve energy. The small homes are easy to heat and cool. Stimson said many rely on renewable sources of energy such as solar power to heat them in the winter.

“A lot of them have no utility bills,” he said. “They produce all of their own energy.”

Caldwell’s home will feature large glass windows on the south side to take advantage of the sun’s rays in the winter.

Stimson said most of his students had no experience in construction prior to his class.

“We’re only two weeks into the class and they are already working at a clean, professional level,” he said. “It’s gratifying to me to see the change from three Mondays ago when we started the course till today. They’ve really come a long way. I tell my students that when they’re done with this course, they should be able to go anywhere in the country and be under a roof in two weeks.”

The class spends several hours per day in hands-on construction projects and also studies architecture in a traditional classroom setting. All the students in the class create a floor plan for a home they would like to build.

In order for the class to build a tiny house, someone has to pay for the materials. Stimson said that does not present a problem because people in Fairfield are lining up for tiny homes, especially now that students are donating their labor to build them.

Fairfield’s city ordinances do not allow a house of such small size to be built within the city limits, which is part of the reason Caldwell will build hers outside the city limits near Eco Village. Another reason she is building it there is because she wants to start a community of tiny homes.

Caldwell said she got the idea to move into a tiny house in December. She liked the idea of building an inexpensive home, and she was looking for a senior project to complete in order to graduate.

“In the Sustainable Living Program, we’re all about reduce, reuse and recycle,” she said. “We’re all very close here at the university. It’s cool to have classmates, who are people I care about, help build your house.”

Stimson said the course teaches students how to use space efficiently and creatively, which is especially necessary in a tiny house where there is so little of it.

“One thing in the house serves two or more functions,” he said. “[Caldwell’s] reading nook is going to turn into a guest bed. Some people put their dish drainers right above the sink, which is also where they store their dishes, so you don’t have to dry your dishes and put them in a cupboard. You just let them drain down into the sink.”

Caldwell said solar panels will supply electricity to her home. Her septic system will employ a composting toilet. Heat will be supplied by the solar panels and a wood stove. The house will be 12 feet high on one side and 11 feet high on the other. Rain will be collected from the roof for use in the house.

The course on tiny houses premiered earlier this year. Stimson said the class is so popular he has agreed to teach it next year and most likely will for many years.

Published with permission from The Fairfield Ledger, this article covered almost the entire front page, including three large photos down the right side, and another one on the back inside page with the rest of the article.

More news coverage: Tiny House’ offers big benefits to save energy and money — KTVO’s Kate Allt reports from MUM.

‘Tiny House’ offers big benefits to save energy and money — KTVO’s Kate Allt reports from MUM

May 15, 2013

Tiny House’ offers big benefits to save energy and money

by Kate Allt | Posted: 05.15.2013 at 4:48 PM
Students and volunteers raise the walls on Heather Caldwell's tiny house. / KTVO's Kate Allt

Students and volunteers raise the walls on Heather Caldwell’s tiny house. / KTVO’s Kate Allt

FAIRFIELD, IOWA — We often say that bigger is better, but a tiny house movement sweeping the country is proving otherwise.

Fairfield has several tiny houses, most of them about the size of a typical college dorm room. Wednesday, students in the Sustainable Living program at Maharishi University started construction on the newest one — a 12-foot-by-20-foot home designed by student Heather Caldwell.

“A lot of people believe that – in the tiny house movement – that we just consume too much, we’re living in spaces that are way too big, we don’t need that much space,” Caldwell said. “And so these people are building tiny houses to live in them. The thing that I’m interested in once I graduate is not only building tiny houses, but building a community, tiny house communities. So there’s a tiny house movement right now where a lot of people individually are building tiny houses and pretty soon we’ll see more tiny communities popping up and that’s what I’m majoring in.”

The building course is new at Maharishi University, but they plan to teach it for a long time.

“It’s a global movement, people are doing it everywhere and the idea is to downsize and simplify and to lower your energy demands and to be able to live off of renewable energy,” said Professor Mark Stimson, of Maharishi’s Sustainable Living Program. “One of the greatest things is — well, two things — to become self-reliant. It used to be in the old days in this country everybody knew how to build their own house, but since then we’ve gotten kind of specialized in all that. So this is sort of going back to that era of self reliance. And then the greatest part also is just the idea of living mortgage-free. If you can save a few thousand dollars or just salvage materials from places, you can build a very comfortable, snug home for very little money and not have to pay a mortgage for 20 or 30 years.”

Heather designed every element of her tiny house and will be moving on with two kids, four cats and a dog.

“I didn’t believe it at first,” said Heather’s daughter, Ellie. “It’s one of those projects our parents say they’re going to do and then they don’t do. But it’s happening, so it’s fun.”

Caldwell said one of the most challenging aspects is utilizing the small space available to make a fully functioning home.

“One of the big keys to tiny houses is finding multiple uses for the same spot,” she said. “Like the reading nook in the tiny house is also a guest bed and it also houses the dining room table which slips out from underneath and that’s our dining room table.”

Heather’s family hopes to move in in late June and will live in the tiny house for a year. On top of being smaller and more energy-efficient, Heather’s house is also being designed to be entirely off the grid, with solar-powered windows, composting and mud plaster.

To learn more on Heather’s house and to see progress over the next few weeks, visit her blog by clicking here.

To learn more about the Sustainable Living program at MUM, click here.


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