Sunday, September 24

Mud Glorious Mud

The above pictures are of my neighbour’s mud brick house, a common site where I live here in Eltham, Melbourne, Victoria, home to mud brick building in Australia. ‘Muddies” as that are called became popular in the mid fifties when Eltham was a remote small community and their champion was Alistair Knox.

It is axiomatic that mud bricks will be a fundamental element in the alternative social structure today,'' he wrote.

"The material itself is free. It costs a man his physical labour only, which is the same for both rich and poor. "The making can be a wholly natural activity. It has great therapeutic properties. Watching the earth dry and the varying characteristics of its physical structure, immerse us in poetic deliberations that unite our hearts, heads and hands.

Click here to read his story.

Using mud bricks as building materials is relatively straightforward; homes are generally cooler in summer and warmer in winter. Apart from ensuring they have slightly longer eaves, mud brick homes don’t require any special maintenance and will outlast those constructed of more conventional materials.

To day there are small pockets of homes in the older areas where most of the homes are made from mud bricks. If you’re interested in modern designs click here for pictures.


Val said...

The closest I got to the feel of a mud brick house was one that we had built for us, where the interior walls were bagged cement blocks. I loved the feel and look of it. I'd love to do the tour of Eltham mud brick houses. Do they still offer those?

Rachael Byrnes said...

I went to a yoga class for a few years in Fitzroy, and recently discovered that my teacher, Eugene Knox is the daughter of the late Alistair Knox. Small world isn't it!! She still runs a yoga school.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Rachael & Val .

Interesting !!

Val - there was a free two-hour guided walk in august visiting sites of historical or heritage interest around Eltham. Themes include early history, the arts and mudbrick buildings.
LOCATION: Eltham Local Historical Centre, Eltham try PHONE: 03 9439 9717 to see when or if there are any future walks planned.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

I love buildings made with local materials. When the prairies were first being settled, lots of "soddies" were built - often a space dug into the ground and then built up with sod "bricks above ground level. Something I'd like to try someday is stacklog or cordwood construction. It's lot of work, but I love the look of it.

Annette said...

My greatgrandparents lived in a sod house which is still standing on property they sold many, many years ago, in Iowa, US. I would like to try a haybale house. We built a log cabin during the summer I was pregnant with my daughter, and that was fun. I love the look and feel of mud houses.


Anonymous said...

Thank you Lindsay for pushing my nose into the mud.
In the climate where I live some people experiment with a combination of straw and mud. But it remains tricky because you need to figure out how to deal with humidity. Anyhow, I will study your links and thanks for your fine post.

Anonymous said...

Hi Lindsay,
what an interesting post!
these muddies are omnipresent in India because they are the cheapest to build and have all the qualities you mentioned in the post. The only thing is that its mainly the poor people live in them without knowing or understanding the ecological advantages and the spritual experience that goes in building them.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Madcap & Zee & Annette -I could see you turning your talents to mud brick building!!
Abhay k Interesting -like many of our forbears

Ingrid said...

As a permie, I read it with interest (for the most part) and I'll have to read it in full later on. I'd love to live in one of those houses and as far as I know, there was a cob building workshop here last year but I haven't seen anything re. rammed earth. My kid's school building was partly built with strawbale techniques and the look and the colour is beautiful..great post!

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Ingrid
Mud brick building is different to the technique employed with rammed earth which was popular in France and adpted to construction here in Eltham.But in both cases it relies on a mixture of straw and mud!!
best wishes

DellaB said...

Hi Lindsay,
I knew a couple who built a mud-brick house somewhere on the outskirts of Gawler, north of Adelaide in South Australia. They had very nearly finished and it was a large roomy dwelling, surprisingly posh.

They made all the bricks themselves, they had 2 small children and ran a busy computer business, so I don't know where they found the time. One of the biggest plusses, according to them was the cost - dirt cheap (no pun intended) and they had built a house with no mortgage.

Thanks for the input on my Wandjina post - I find it all so fascinating and so little known or understood - the complex differences between the different tribes and their beliefs, and their inter-tribal relationships.

I have only ever touched the surface, mostly from contact with my sister Roberta and her comings and goings - but I get more and more interested the more I read and see.

Lee said...

I love the look of mud brick houses. There is a warmth and earthiness (no pun intended) about them.

Lindsay Lobe said...

Hi Lee & Dellab
thanks for visting/ best wishes

JuBlue said...

Very cool.

niclabicla said...

I remember when I was in high school living in Eltham all of the students and teachers were asked to make one mud brick each for a new building in the school.
It was an amazing feeling of togetherness being involved in a project like that! Represented in that building was a little piece of everyone who was part of the community that gathered there.

janie said...

The Eltham Mudbrick tours are stiil on. See the Facebook page for Eltham Mudbrick Tour. Run annually in October the next tour is Sunday October 19 2014