The Straw-Bale Mosque
A remarkable new project has begun in the unrecognized village of Wadi al-Na’am, the village mentioned two posts ago. It is a relatively large mosque, easily enough to fit 200-300 worshippers, made of straw-bale construction. For those unfamiliar with this method of building, it involves stacking straw bales one on top of the other as the core of the walls, and then covering the bales with thick clay-like mud, and finally covering the mud with plaster, which is often then water-sealed. This creates a structure that is earthquake proof, waterproof, and mostly fireproof. It is also completely green, and has a very low environmental footprint. In this case, the only non-natural materials were the rebar used to hold the bales in place, the cement floor, and the metal roof and its supports. No drywall, no tyvec, no pvc. Unfortunately, the government has posted a demolition order on the mosque, as it has been built without government permission, which in turn is almost impossible to attain in this village. This does not mean that demolition is assured, but it certainly puts a cloud over the happiness that would normally go along with the opening of a new place of worship.
When we visited the mosque, the walls had been built, the roof was on, and most of the mud had been applied. They were working on the windowframes, and finishing the second coat of mud-clay. Photos by Rachael Strecher.