Adobe construction

Adobe is the Spanish word for mud brick originates from Arabic, is a building material made from earth and often organic material.

In dry climates, adobe structures are extremely durable, and account for some of the oldest existing buildings in the world.

Natural buildings offer significant advantages due to their greater thermal mass, but they are known to be particularly susceptible to earthquake damage if they are not somehow reinforced.

Costa Rica Adobe Bricks 14646940835_8198c70e5c_z
Image: Other Names – Mud Brick, COB Brick, Adobe Brick, Earth Brick


Adobe Brick drying on the sun
Image: First mud mix is pushed into a mold, which is really just some wood built to the dimensions of the bricks. Once they have dried for 4 days in the hot sun they can be stacked to save space.

The mix

An adobe brick is a composite material made of earth mixed with water and an organic material such as straw or dung. The soil composition typically contains sand, silt and clay. Straw is useful in binding the brick together and allowing the brick to dry evenly, thereby preventing cracking due to uneven shrinkage rates through the brick. Dung offers the same advantage. The most desirable soil texture for producing the mud of adobe is 15% clay, 10-30% silt and 55-75% fine sand.

The bricks

Bricks are often made in an open frame of 25 by 36 cm. The mixture is molded into a frame, and then the frame is removed after initial setting. After drying a few hours, the bricks are turned on edge to finish drying. Slow drying in shade reduces cracking.

adobe wall in Bolivia
Image: To protect the adobe wall from rain, overlapping roof tiles have been placed on top as mini roof


Image: Papaya tree behind a adobe wall



Image: Very high adobe wall where the different adobe brick layers are very well visible

adobe house in Bolivia

Image: Traditional houses in Samaipata where previously build in adobe. Sadly now new houses are being build in brick and cement.

Adobe house

Adobe house

Adobe house

Adobe house4