Aims / House descriptions

The objectives of the project
After learning the superadobe technology we have been working on its introduction in Hungary for 3 years from our own resources. We have achieved a lot of things despite the many difficulties (the technology is new and unusual, the system is overregulated and works with industrial building materials and as such does not favor simple, on-site or recycled materials or want people to build their houses themselves or without the involvement of the building industry). We have tested the technology on several simple sample buildings. We have prepared a curriculum and educational program for the workshops we have held so that more people can learn about the technology in practice and have been working to promote it on several platforms (lectures, interviews, articles) so that it will reach a wider audience. Now the time has come to build the first dome-and-vault superadobe residential building that demonstrates the advantages and special features of the technology and the items we adapted to our climate and culture. The sample house will not only have a demonstrative function but will offer people the opportunity to test it for one or two days and get answers to their possible questions. Additional aim is to acquire full licensing permission for the technology. We would like to emphasize that there are no laws forbidding the use of adobe in construction. But sometimes authorities are not prepared for new situations and technologies that are not linked to the traditional construction techniques of square brick buildings. The whole process of designing, licensing and building a suberadobe house, however, requires more human and financial resources that what we have.

The Beehive EcoHouse would give us the opportunity not only to demonstrate the technology but convey people an (environmentally) conscious approach to life based on permaculture. Permaculture is an ecological design and farming method that helps us develop a sustainable life and environment that is in harmony with nature.

When building the sample house at our educational center in Héreg, a small village in the North-West part of Hungary we would like the following principles to prevail:

The method used to build the house will be an ideal and affordable combination of traditional (found in nature) and modern (both new and recycled) building materials and organic building technologies (adobe, straw bale, earthship);

  • Less energy and money will be used to build and maintain the house than what present building technologies require;
  • The house built will be a beautiful, healthy and harmonious home and will be a manifestation of the principle “A sound mind in a sound body.” (According to the Gaia hypothesis we believe that houses function like organic systems, and the place we live in is like our third skin.) Our aim is to build healing houses as an alternative to the present buildings that make us ill (e.g. sick building syndrome);
  • The approach applied will be that of ’designing with nature’ (e.g. permaculture) and the principles of organic and sacral architecture, universal elements and guiding principles will be followed;
  • Environmental consciousness and sustainability at an affordable price: renewable and soft energy sources, compost and masonry (thermal mass) heaters, environmentally sound water management (collection of rain water, compost toilets), organic farming;
  • The house with it environment is more adaptive to the climate changes we face today (extreme cold/hot, windstorms, flood like rains, and floods than the conventional houses;
  • Self-sufficiency and autonomy at a highest level: simple but effective building, engineering methods and energetics that can be learnt and applied by everyone (we prefer „passive”, physical solutions to complicated, expensive engineering methods and chemical techniques);
  • Resuscitation of our cultural heritage and vernacular architecture in a way that meets the needs of modern people;
  • Empowering families and communities, community building, practicing and experiencing the joy and effectiveness of cooperation between people;
Our modest financial and human resources, however, do not make it possible to cover the costs of the construction of the sample house all on our own. At the same time without a tangible sample building that can be observed, touched, smelled and tested the introduction of the technology cannot advance. We need YOUR help to follow in the footsteps of Nader Khalili, the father of the superadobe technology and help as many people as possible to realize their basic right to a home and healthy life.

Henhouse - Hortobágy Puszta Animal Park (Hungary)

The Beehive Houses – location and design

Located in the Gerecse mountains next to the village of Héreg there is mountain and vineyard called Hosszúhegy. It is surrounded by fields and belongs to the Gerecse mountain range itself. Close to the „wilderness”, at the end of a row of plots mostly with deserted wine-press houses on them lies the center of our future self-sufficient eco-village, the Rainbow Ecovillage as we call it. This is the educational and demonstration center of the Superadobe & Permaculture Workgroup.

The Beehive EcoHouse is planned to be built on the top of the South-Western slope of the Hosszúhegy mountain. Why “beehive”? Because the domes of the houses reminds us a beehive oven. The houses themselves are big beehive ovens: the thick walls store the heat in the winter and make a fine warm climate inside. The project consists of two buildings: 1) the “Wine-Press House” and 2) the “Earth Bermed House”. The „main” building will be the wine-press house though this will be the smaller one (floor area of 24 m2). The earth bermed house will be the „outhouse”, however it has higher floor area (cc. 60 m2) and it is called in the permission as “cellar” as it will not be higher than 1 meter from the ground. This underground, earth covered design with a living roof makes us possible to build a bigger house than the regulations would allow. On the other earth sheltered houses have many other advantages (see later). This combination of the two smaller buildings is what the local building regulations allow and this is how we can make the most of the land both size and function wise. This is how we can use our facilities the most creatively and effectively:
  • Scarce resources (money, restrictions on the height of buildings and how much of the land can be built in);
  • The two buildings will represent two types of building methods: the Wine-press House will be „traditional” in its appearance (a one-storey building with a porch and a thatched roof) but modern in its structure and forms of vaults and domes. The earth bermed house will exploit the positive features of homes set partially into the ground and covered with earth (detailed later in the project description). Its domes covered with green roofs and its square rooms with its vaulted ceilings will display a different superadobe building alternative to that of the wine-press house.
  • The wine-press House will be built on the upper part of the site and as such will be closer to the dirt road crossing the mountain so it will be easier to reach. This is the woodiest part of the site, almost at the edge of the forest and it is protected by trees. The earth house will be built on the keyline of the hill, which is the most ideal place for a residential building according to the building principles of permaculture. The view is also great from it and gets a lot of sunshine.
Details and plans can be found in the l. Supplement - Plans of the downloadable document (See at the bottom of the page.)

As we have two houses to build the Beehive EcoHouse Project will be realized in two phases. First the wine-press house will be built as it poses fewer building challenges.

The Wine-Press House or “Tumbleweed House”

The wine-press house of 24 m2 floor area will have the floor plan of a flower (tumbleweed is called devil-wheel flower in Hungarian). It is a nice example to get inspiration from the forms and patterns of the nature. The house has a central dome of 4 meter inside diameter that will comprise of a kitchen, a living and dining room. The „petals” will all be some small rooms that will serve as the supporting walls of the dome. One will be the bathroom facing to the South-West; the other will be the pantry facing to the North. The sofa of the living room will actually be in the third petal to the South-East that can serve as a small sleeping place during the night and can be separated with a curtain. The main dome will get the light through the roof windows and the two-winged porch door facing to the South, and additionally through the kitchen window and even through the windows of the “petals”. A winter garden can be attached to this southern part of the house later on. The windows and the door facing to the south are part of the passive solar system that let the heating sun-ray into the house during the winter. The entrance of the house will face North-East that is closest to the dirt road and will be protected from the wind and rain by side walls that would at the same time serve as supporting walls.
During the planning phase we had to take into consideration a lot of aspects and make compromises so that this small house will be a great living place with a good layout and height, will have proper building orientation to use solar energy in the winter and to avoid it in the summer, the inclination of the roof will be suitable, the porch will be shaded and the house lit enough.
The gallery above the pantry and the sofa with its two unique small window bays will not only increase the useful living space but with its splendid view onto the surrounding forest and garden will serve as a special sleeping place. The house will be heated by a masonry (thermal mass) heater with a double combustion chamber which can be used for cooking and baking and its special smoke pipes can heat the bathroom and the water, as well. The house will have a thatched roof which will hang off to protect the rooms from the summer sun and will have a thatched walling insulation. With time the terraces between the “petals” can be closed for example with a window porch so that we will end up with small protected areas that can be used for storing wood or other things and for a winter garden.
In spite of its small size the house will meet all comfort needs: the central beehive oven like masonry heater, its arched rooms with their special forms, its colored windows, its walls covered with textiles or mosaics will all add to creating a warm atmosphere. It will serve as a shelter in a turbulent and disquieting word.

The Earth Sheltered House or “Nautilus”

The earth bermed house will lay on the mountain slope. It will be built in the second phase of the Beehive House Project. Although it is bigger than the wine-press house, we will love it not thanks to it its grandiosity rather to its clever arrangement, moody inside spaces and interesting façade. Inspired by the nature again it reminds us of the deep sea chambered nautilus, however Nemo’s submarine could be its naming, as well. It will be cc. 60 m2 and will comprise of central gothic domes (of 4 meter inside diameter) surrounded with six “chambers”. One smaller dome facing to the North and giving space to the thermal mass heater, two arched sleeping rooms and three accessory rooms: the bathroom, the pantry and the hall. The main dome with a big roof window will serve as the kitchen, the living and dining room. The sleeping rooms and the hall are oriented to the South, where a nice winter garden will be attached to the hall. The hall and the winter garden “insulates” and shades the main dome during the winter, while it is part of the passive solar system during the winter.
Only the top of the main dome will be visible, the rest of the vaults will be covered by green roofs and the toilet and the pantry by a kind of cap which will ensure they get enough light. The walls of the house will be colorfully painted or covered by frescos and decorated with superadobe flower pots and tiny pools. The southern facade and the entrance of the house are protected from the wind and rain by two arched earthship retaining walls reminding us to the arms of the arms of an octopus. In front of the house there will be a sunray lake made of superadobe directing the winter sun into the winter garden and into the southern windows of the house. As the house overlooks the lower part of the site and the mountains around the house we would like all rooms to open onto the porch and garden. Why not? The green is always inviting and it is good to get out into the nature.
Both small houses and the garden will be built with our own hands and from the smallest detail to the biggest everything will radiate our love and dedication. We would like as many people as possible to experience these feelings as they visit and test our houses.