Mud bricks drying in the sun
Mud bricks have been used in construction for thousands of years. In the days of Exodus, nearly 4,000 years ago, Hebrew slaves made bricks with mud and straw for Pharaoh’s huge building projects.
Interest in this traditional building method has revived in recent years. It is natural, sustainable, inexpensive and easy, and thus especially suitable for poor rural communities. The high thermal properties of mud bricks means that the buildings stay cool inside without fans or air-conditioning, even in hot tropical climates. The mud brick walls are protected from rain by deep eaves, and can be coated with other protective materials.
Front and back of sample house
Wycliffe Bible Translators Thailand (WBTT) has embarked on an ambitious mud brick building project to build an office, with additional facilities and guesthouses for language teams and visitors. Some years ago, WBTT was gifted a plot of land, but could not afford to build on it with conventional methods. However, WBTT recently drew up plans and received approval to construct a small “sample house” of mud bricks. WBTT staff have already made enough bricks for this house, so building can begin once they find someone to take charge of the actual construction.
David Tan, Executive Director of Wycliffe Singapore, joined WBTT staff and volunteers in one of their weekly brick-making sessions in January. First, everyone got into the mud pit to tread the mud with rice chaff. When the mud was at the right consistency, it was pushed into wooden moulds to form the bricks, which were then left in the sun to dry. They are able to make about 100 bricks each session.
Making mud bricks
Besides building the centre, WBTT hopes that the expertise gained in using this traditional method of building can be used to reach out to indigenous communities in rural areas who are unable to afford to build with modern materials. Such community development projects can be an effective way to connect with unreached groups.