In Bariloche, the Lake District of Argentina that we visited in December 2018, we stayed in the ecological house of our awesome Couchsurfing host, Emilio. His house is built of adobe (mudbrick), a lot of wood and recycled material, such as car windscreen as windows, coloured bottles as special light-transmitting elements in the wall. Wooden beams and columns were used to support the adobe walls and the ceiling, while their secondary function was to keep hooks and coat hangers. The whole house was so cute, we loved it right away. Have a look by yourself:

Why stay at an ecological house?

In the first place, we didn’t look for an ecological house to get hosted, let’s say Fortune brought it to us. But we absolutely loved the whole experience!

The house was at a forest area together with similar, eco houses scattered around. Emilio didn’t have direct neighbours, only further away, so we could really feel the remoteness and closeness to nature during our whole stay.

The ecological house was fully furnished with kitchen and bathroom, with smart, eco solutions for every little aspect of life. The primarily wood building material gave a very nice smell to the house and it was never too cold. Wood, and the adobe material really has the effect of charging us up with positive energy, so we felt super relaxed there! 

How is adobe used for an ecological house?

Adobe is a traditional material for building houses across South America and especially at rural areas we can still see many adobe buildings. Adobe, or in English mudbrick, is a building material made of earth (clay and sand) and organic elements (hay or sometimes cow dung) formed to a brick shape and dried in the sun.

Adobe in fact used to be a popular building material not only in South America, but at many places in the world. This material has a comeback nowadays in environmentally conscious groups, for example in permaculture ecological house architecture. Learn more about permaculture, an essential sustainability project here.

Chan chan adobe archeological site

In Peru there’s an entire village called Chan Chan, which was constructed of adobe. It’s the biggest adobe village in the Americas and the second biggest of the world. This village was founded by the chimú, a tribe at the northern coast of current day Peru in the pre-Inca times.

Today Chan Chan is an archaeological site with UNESCO world heritage title.

adobe houses village peru
Most of the houses are built of adobe in villages, like this one near Cusco, Peru

Adobe architecture today

Across Argentina, Bolivia, Peru adobe is still a very popular building material that rural families traditionally have been using for centuries due to its durability and resistance to bad weather. Houses made of adobe are well insulated and energy efficient.

Chanchan trujillo peru adobe
Chan Chan archaeological site, near Trujillo, Peru

Have you ever slept in an adobe house? Would you consider building your house with organic materials like that one? Share your thoughts in the comments!


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Who am I?

Anna is a world citizen, an avid traveller, a passionate environmentalist and a digital nomad. Writing about her year backpacking through South America, she tries to encourage everyone to discover this beautiful continent as a traveller or a digital nomad and pass on her love for responsible travel.

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