Earth House at Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary

Earth House is at the end of the trail at Maryknoll Ecological Sanctuary and it is a fusion of old and modernity. Set among the trees and greens, it is a beckoning and welcoming.

This is my entry to #MarketFriday hosted by @dswigle. We went to Maryknoll to enjoy the nature of bamboo, particularly Chinese bamboo, pine trees and other trees, plants, flowers and other vegetation. I would have wanted to post more about that but I wanted to focus on the Earth House for it is remarkable enough to be posted on its own.

To start, here is a short video that I took of the house. Looking back now, I should have focused more on the details of it. When I read about this article online about this house.

According to the article, this was built by Emma Villanueva. Not an architect, not an engineer nor a contractor.

Through the friendship between her and the then directress of Maryknoll, Sister Cathy, this earth house was born. Sister Cathy's experience serving in Latin America, Africa and Europe, she drew inspiration from the cobhouses that she saw and these were constructed using available resources in those areas.

The idea of constructing something using the materials from a renovation at Maryknoll and other materials came to mind and thus the Earth House was born.

Of course it was not an easy feat especially that Ms. Emma Villanueva has no experience in building a house. However, because of the encouragement and support from those around her, a plan designed by Ara-Santos-Halili and funds are already available, the project was soon started. Nothing to do but moving forward.

She then consulted Zelimir Stuggart, who built a cobhouse himself. The orientation of the sun has to be considered and the weather of Baguio City where it is almost always rainy. According to Stuggart, the materials should be of natural resources so that the walls can "breathe". He was the one who laid down the foundation.

It started with different formulas using clay, sand and straw until the right one was found. These were then put on walls of bamboo slats.

She also worked with the Pitak project, who also experimented with a shed made of cobbing materials, as the article stated.

With the help of Pitak project, the creation of the Earth house turned into a learning experience not just with Ms. Villanueva but also with other people who were willing to learn from this. The Earth house was built by many helping hands.

It also helped in her building the house by attending a course in Thailand which furthered her learning in construction using natural and sustainable materials even mastering adobe-brick making.

While most of the house was built from natural materials, the interior dividers were made from Styrofoam fitted in steel mattings and covered with cement, as the article said.

The bottles on the walls reminds me of glass windows in churches.
This not only bring in natural light but also adds color and beauty to the overall look of the house interiorly and exteriorly. She also has to learn the art of cutting glass bottles and some were used as lamps.

The fireplace is the distinct feature as it is in the center of the house and sort of divides everything from living room to kitchen, to the master bedroom behind it, the walk-in toilet and the room above. The toilet can both be accessed from the master bedroom and kitchen.

This has always been close every time we visited Maryknoll that's why when it was wide open while we were there, I did not hesitate to enter it and check it for myself.

Everywhere you look you know that this is well put together and that it had been built with practicality and style. The ceiling is fitted with bamboo reeds. The wooden doors and furniture contrast beautifully to the color of the wall. The glass bottles and other windows bring in natural light which is needed because the house is surrounded by trees and light is a concern. While we were there, the lights don't work but there was enough light to work on it thanks to the brilliant idea of Ms. Villanueva. I had to use a flash though when I took photos of the toilet because it was dark back there and not enough light is coming in.

A wooden ladder carved with the word welcome and other designs takes you to a room above the master's bedroom below it. I climbed up there of course and it feels hot up there. It was a good idea that it wasn't closed up in walls.

It felt like it has not been lived on for a long time though because the house is stuffy and dusty.

I also like these door handles which were wooden sculptures of bulul/bul-ul, considered to be the guardian deity.

This house is a manifestation of progress and how we should work with old ideas that have worked and to add in new ideas to make it more efficient. Also it is notable that these were built by different people, enforcing the old practice of bayanihan where a community come together to help each other.

Earth House at Marknoll Ecological Sanctuary is located in Baguio City. The entrance fee now is PHP75.00, a minimal increase from the PHP50.00. Whenever you have a chance to visit Baguio, do include Marknoll in your list and be sure to checkout the Earth House too. It's just a few minutes away from the city center.

For more reading about the Earth House, you can check this article.

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