Building Update – Things coming together nicely.
Building has really ramped up this week. We’re now working on two aspects of the build;
The service buildings – that’s reception, restaurant, massage, salt rooms, and body care etc. As well as the earthbag domes.
After building a successful test dome –
We’re now confident to move on to building the first single Earthbag dome chalet.
Learning from our mistakes
Moreover, with the experience gained from the first attempt. A little tweaking here and there and adjusting our techniques, I am confident that this one will be perfect!
We really are learning from our mistakes!
As the designer of this Retreat, I am delighted to also be managing the project. So, I’m now split over two builds! The domes and the brick buildings. A wonderful challenge.
Not a problem though because with my plans and the wonderful team led by Ahmad Shahat, we’re making excellent progress. Everyone is so proud of their contribution to this wonderful project.
Finishing the Dukhan
Dukhan is the Arabic word for Smoke. Our earlier post How Our Natural Treatments Once Benefited the Pharaohs goes into more detail about what this room will be used for.
Not only will it give a great auric cleanse, but also has the benefit of toning and tightening the skin.
The base chakra also benefits from this treatment by being purified and re-balanced.
Latest pictures of Our Dukhan
Here, they are prepping the walls for the plaster, which adheres better without the plastic. The bags have completed their job, with temperatures up to 36 degrees centigrade this week the earth has dried so quickly.
What about Plaster?
I wanted an earthen plaster to keep the build sustainable but I didn’t want the interior of the domes to be dark and I also wanted variety in colours used on the exteriors. But without using toxic additives or paint.
The builders kept talking about using ‘white cement’. However, being unsure of what this was made of I was a bit hesitant until I did my research.
So you can imagine my delight when I found out that it’s actually chalk! Pure unadulterated chalk which is in abundance in and around Marsa Alam. You can’t get more sustainable than that!
This is a mix of chalk, sand, straw and water – simple!
I just love the finish of this plaster. The chalk gives a kind of softness to the room. It’s a fantastic insulator and helps to keep the room cool.
The temperature outside is in the mid 30’s Celsius but inside this dome, the architecture and natural materials used, is making this room feel as though it has air con!
Not to mention the wonderful aroma in the room emanating from all the natural materials. I could stay in here all day!
But I will get the chance because the Retreat will also be my home!
These really are hand-sculpted buildings!
No Dukhan is complete without a pit!
Aromatic smouldering wood or incense is used in the Dukhan, so central to the room is a small pit where the smoking embers are placed.
So here goes
The earthen mix used here has more clay added so that it becomes similar in consistency to what is used to make earthenware cooking pots, to withstand the heat of the embers.
All of the above are traditional methods of building in Egypt that date back thousands of years; and moreover that few people living in remote villages still use today.
I can say it wasn’t easy finding builders who still work in this way as the demand these days is for more conventional architecture. Ahmad Shahat is rare in his trade.
Our builders are really excited and love to be working on this project with these traditional methods. Normally they are building modern architecture.
The whole area where this build is taking place exudes peace and tranquility. So unusual for a building site. Everyone is so calm! These buildings really are being built with love infused into the walls.
Really easy – a simple covering of white sand. How beautiful, perfect for this natural haven.
We’ve gone from this
There’s still a few finishing touches but these lads have done really well!
Read our next post to see the progress made on our other buildings, they are coming along just fine too!
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