Start to Plan
Choose to Build Strong Enough
There are lots of ways to build naturally. It’s wonderful when quick and cheap walls are strong enough! But your location or your building size might be risky enough that a little more care can save lives.
Shelter should provide safety, not danger.
Using natural materials leads the way for others. Pave a safe way for those coming behind. Get a rough idea what your seismic risk level is with our Quake Risk Maps page. Check into the other possible risks like tsunami, floods, landslides, soft foundation soils in our booklet Evaluat-Soils-Warm-Climate.
After you check risks out, choose the easiest way to turn your building into a safe reality. Find out about how different materials measure up to different risks and climates on our Build page.
Choose Your Goals
Express local culture and history. Strengthen ties within communities and fit local lifestyles. Learn about user’s needs and culture first. Then involve them. Give them real choices between different sketches while planning.
Choose the Right Room Sizes
Different cultures use space in different ways. Is it more important to show honor to workers or to make visitors feel at home? Useful-Room-Sizes (900 kb pdf).
Plan for Natural Comfort
Aim buildings to capture or repel winds or sun.
Build with local materials in ways that work with local climate. Heavy materials can retain heat from the sun or even out daily overheating and chilly nights. Light materials often reduce sweating in humid areas. Shaping-Bldgs-for-Humid-Tropics (900 kb pdf).
Use the Good, Minimize the Bad
Beautiful views are free but lift the spirits. Capture breezes on hilltops, place activities that need quiet away, and heavy work close to roads.
Use fences or walls to provide security or separate uses that don’t mix well. Use buildings and trees to block winter breezes in cold regions.
Leave Room for Water, Waste and Plants.
Keep latrines or septic disposal 100′ (30 m) away from any water source. Read more hows and whys about toilets, water purification and simple ways to improve health: Water
Plants can provide food, shade, and actual evaporation based cooling. Homes, schools, or clinics need the right places left open for trees, bushes and vines. Think of a future with wood and gourds for handicrafts, medicinal herbs, or edible fruit, leaves, and nuts.