#39 TNT Different Dwellings: Helping Build a Sustainable Home in El Bolsón, Argentina

by | Dec 15, 2019 | Blog, Podcasts | 0 comments

By improving living conditions, human beings will, in turn, improve themselves. It’s a reciprocal cycle. Our dwellings inform who we are.

In episode #39 of TNT listen to the story of Romundo and how he built his homemade home. Romundo likes to work with his hands.

It’s a reciprocal cycle, and by automating everything from North Park to New Delhi, we shroud the inner workings of this constant clockwork. After all, most of us don’t really know how the lights turn on when we flip the switch.

What kind of dwellings we construct plays a huge role in the overarching evolution of the human species. From McMansions, to multiplex’s, to straw bail huts — each structure consumes energy and changes the planet in entirely different ways. For more detailed info about the components sustainable construction, slide over to my essay Sustainable Self: Where Our Power Comes From and Why Earthship Biotecture is Better than Regular Architecture.

As we flock to the cities and condominiums, I can only imagine what building my own house would be like: designing the blueprints, choosing the materials, learning new skills as necessary, and maintaining it over time. However impractical a process, I reckon it feels quite rewarding.

In El Bolsón, Argentina during my unplanned 2017 GapQuest, I had an opportunity to work with a man doing just that. His name was Romundo and he liked to work with his hands.

Handy Man Chuck

Romundo was the host at my first ever Volunteering Gig. I chose his place because of some pictures on Argentina’s wwoofing site. I have since had over 15 other Volunteering Gigs and his is still one of my favorites. It could be said that if this first Gig wouldn’t have been great, I never would have volunteered again.

Average evening at the outdoor kitchen.

Over the course of my stay we made significant progress on his nearly six-year-long project; the construction of a two story home… built by hand… using materials collected from the land itself and other relatively sustainable sources.

Inside walls made of clay, straw, and eventually sand.

 The main octogonal frame of the house was supported by a concrete slab, and an arrangement of 2×4 pine planks formed the walls. The house featured a “living roof” made of grass and dirt. It insulates in winter, and cools in the summertime. “At some point,” Romundo told me one day as we admired the structure,  “I’ll have to get up there with a lawn mower.”

Romundo and his jolly volunteers.

We worked for roughly 8 hours a day, 6 days a week, cutting cypress planks with circular saws and angle grinders equipped with a chainsaw blade (a badass tool), mixing clay materials by hand and foot, and leveling eucalyptus porch posts by means of the “string and bucket filled with rocks” technique (a truly practical physics class application).

This entire house was purely from Romundo’s imagination. Everything started from a simple notebook sketch.

Romundo taught me much about construction, but more about crafting quality. He considered his house a work of art, and treated it as such. Maybe I’ll buy an acre out by that pond in Freedom county, build a little shack, spend a few years writing, see what comes of it.

Stay wild folks,

A.C.E. the Theorist


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