Build A Village '08 Project

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Factor E Farm, an OSE ground facility, is expanding and is in need of a higher level of built infrastructure in order to provide accommodations for a total of 12 permanent volunteers, interns, researchers and other collaborators so that a larger body of work can be completed in the winter and in the coming year. This will be an opportunity to showcase the open engineered machines that Factor E has completed over the past two years, and to put them into practice in much the same way they will be when these technologies are utilized across the globe.

Obviously we are not building a full scale village, but the experience is such that what technologies we are using and what processes and techniques we will learn and utilize will be further applied on a global scale. This will allow communities to construct their own buildings using open source technology, in a manner which is efficient, environmentally sustainable and with long term resilience in mind.

CEB press

The open engineered CEB press, also known as "The Liberator", is exciting the global community through its simplicity, ease of use and sustainability. Creating one of the most robust earth building materials, called Compressed Earth Blocks, this press stands to revolutionize building autonomy. Using a wide range of mixes of subsoils (any type or climate), you first mix it and then load it into a hopper. Then, using the press which uses highly efficient hydraulics, the earth is pressed into structural blocks. Then, using a simple slip solution, you build walls two bricks thick, creating an earth building with walls so dense that the building works similarly to a cave (with doors and windows), maintaining an almost stable temperature year round. You can read more about the specific plans below.


The world's first open engineered Tractor, LifeTrac, has been designed for durability and ease of maintenance, repair and maximized local construction.  Running a diesel or electric engine, these will be able to be built for far under the standard price for a similarly functioning model, and are so simple that they can be disassembled with ease.  At Factor E they will be using BioDiesel produced in their facility (from waste vegetable oil) to run the tractor, and using the PTO will run the CEB press to produce bricks.  Also, they will build an additional attachment to use as a fork lift for lifting the pallets of bricks to move around the farm.

Other attachments related to the built environment:

  • Grader - smoothing the ground
  • Rototiller - preparing soil
  • Auger - post holes, mixing
  • Forklift - pallet and materials handling
  • Front-end loader - general earth moving, CEB hopper loading
  • Backhoe - digging
  • Winch
  • Hydraulic Swingblade Sawmill - producing lumber
  • Well-drilling rig - water supply
  • Hay Mower and baler - living roofs, mulch
  • and many others

The Process


OSE collaborators will decide on a site, what the uses for the new buildings will be and how design, site preparation, brick production, building and other processes will be accomplished through scheduling, organizing and volunteer recruitment.  Much of the planning will hopefully be coordinated by OSE Mid Mo, as the folks at Factor E Farm are quite busy.  Coordination with architecture students, with student and nonstudent volunteers will be accomplished here in Columbia, Mo.


We are hoping that the design aspect will be able to be done via collaboration with students in the architecture program at UMKC, who have previously collaborated with OSE at Factor E Farm.  A comprehensive plan with load-bearing trusses, electric and water infrastructure will be completed, and rainwater catchment, green roof, composting toilets, solar water heaters, radiant floor heating and other sustainable technologies will be integrated into the design.

Site Prep

It will be necessary to site, clear (machetes), grade (backhoe, tractor grader attachment, tamper), and prepare the site for posts, radiant floor heating, pipes and electric lines from the batteries charged by Solar PV. This can be accomplished with a small team in one weekend.

Brick Production

Bricks can be pre-prepared with a small team using the press and tractor, wherein 10 hours of work (obviously rotating shifts) will produce about 2400 bricks. These will be put on pallets, about 200 per, and transported down to the sites using a tractor. It will be necessary to site and prepare soil for brick production, as a fairly variable, yet still somewhat limited range of soil qualities will be necessary for production of bricks. This will require the auger attachment. The hope is that a part of this process will include a root cellar beneath the kitchen to provide year-round food storage capabilities. This can be done at any time during the process, though it would be nice to have the root cellar ahead of time.

Frame Construction

Pending the designs, a post and beam frame will probably be needed for the larger buildings. Depending on resources and budget, if necessary, this can be done with salvaged wood. There will need to be frames for doors, windows, interior walls and also trusses for structural support. Considering that the intent is to have a living roof which is walkable, a larger degree than average of load bearing capability will be necessary.

Brick Laying

This, along with brick production, will be the most labour intensive part of the process. Teams of volunteers, in bucket brigade style, will be able to hand off the bricks to eachother and limit the amount of walking necessary. This will require large work teams, working in shifts so as not to exhaust people. Also, volunteers will be making and applying a slip to put between the bricks. This will all require gloves, goggles and proper safety equipment. Steel toed boots or toe slip ons are highly suggested.

Roof Construction

Basically, up-ended timbers and wood slats covered with plastic sheeting. On top of this, a thick layer of earth which will be planted in the spring with native herbs and vegetables. Hopefully, part of the design will include a walking path from which you can access the plants, acessible by a ladder and a pulley system for raising up materials. How neat this would be! Also, rainwater collection will be factored in in the drainage of these beds on the roof. The plants will filter the water which will be used in the showers, sinks, kitchen sink and laundry and will be further filtered for drinking (a design such as the she-ba [1] is plausible)

Internship and Volunteership Opportunities