If New Zealand university professor Andrew Charleson has his way, giant rubber bands cut from used tires would strap together new and existing adobe houses the world over, saving lives and avoiding injuries by preventing the houses from collapsing in earthquakes. Having tested his belt-and-suspenders concept, Charleson intends to seek funding to implement the approach as soon as the construction manual for the banding, currently under review by the World Housing Encyclopedia, is finished.
Adobe, made mainly from local clay and water with short lengths of straw and some sand to control shrinkage cracking, is considered the only affordable building material for tens of millions of people across Latin America, the Middle East and parts of Asia. “For many remote communities, it is simply the only building option, as transporting alternative materials from distant cities would be prohibitively expensive,” says Charleson, an associate professor at Victoria University’s School of Architecture, Wellington, and the head of the school’s Earthquake Hazard Centre. To date, the school has been supporting the project.