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introduction Edit

Architecture must be designed for people. This principle, apparently banal but too often disregarded, drives the team of Made In Earth since 2010. In the same year, MiE started collaborating with the Indian NGO Terre des Hommes Core Trust. The goal of their collaboration is to create an integrated network of buildings and activities for the children of local communities in need in the Tamil Nadu region, following them from early childhood and continuing through their education and beyond.

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cultural and social context Edit

The project considers the local context in terms of resources, building materials, workers’ knowledge as well as social and technical costs. Working in third-world countries, architects need to forget bucolic visions and deal with complicated realities where, for example, concrete is sometimes more affordable and readily available than bamboo. Therefore, Casa Rana matches traditional building techniques with products of the modern market.

The construction phase has involved local labor and expertise as well as local community members to foster their autonomy and achieve social inclusion.

Projects of MiE are part of a system of small-scale interventions that can be managed by the community. This ensures a sense of ownership and strengthens local identity. Besides the stimulating opportunity offered by each project, MiE endorses local integrated programs and assists in other community-driven projects. MiE’s mission is to combine ethical and aesthetic values in order to protect people’s dignity, with a real attention to their needs. In this way, architecture becomes a chance to pursue bigger goals - this is our idea of sustainability.

The ongoing design program aims to gradually restore and revitalize traditional materials and building systems to preserve cultural diversities. MiE offers architectural services for humanitarian projects and acts to connect beneficiaries, local organizations and donors willing to fund projects of development cooperation. MiE finds resources, coordinates activities, and blends local skills and its professional expertise to assist community-driven programs.

materials and building techniques Edit


This technique was developed with the aim of finding an alternative to traditional cement plasters to waterproof roofs. Earth is mixed with sand and stabilized with cement and a paste made of lime, tannin, alum (Ammonium sulphate) and water. Tannin is extracted by soaking broken seeds of an Indian tree, Terminelia Chebula, named “kaddukai” in Tamil Nadu, in water. The lime paste is prepared by mixing powdered alum with lime and tannin juice and extra water. Cement gives strength to the plaster and contributes to sealing the roof, but it is the combination of clay, lime, alum and tannin that gives the plaster its waterproofing qualities.

Three coats of plaster are applied with different proportions of these components. The last coat, which is the most waterproof, is done with a 5 mm thick plaster composed of soil, sand and lime paste with no added cement last layer.

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Project details
Project name: CASA RANA
Description: Casa Rana is a foster home for fifteen HIV-positive children and
Category: housing
Building status: in use
Construction period: 2011-2013
Location: Tamil Nadu, India
Coordinates: 12°13'31'' N, 79°4'28.9'' E
Tags: bamboo, color, development cooperation, local resources, low budget
Project ID: 528
Published: 9 July 2015
Last updated: 24 August 2015
(images have individual licenses)
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CC Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike
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