Nature's Unifying PatternsDetailed descriptions and examples
Barn swallows construct their nests with local mud, building them on vertical surfaces and under the overhangs of structures such as barns and bridges to protect their nests from the rain. The mud pellets are built up to create a cozy and safe nest. The inner cup is lined with grass, hair, and feathers all found in the local environment.
Adobe materials make up the oldest extant buildings on the planet. Adobe buildings are made by mixing straw and local sand, clay, or native soil with water to form bricks that are usually dried in the sun. In addition to being an inexpensive and readily available material, adobe is durable and energy efficient. In climates with hot days and cool nights, the thermal mass of an adobe structure stores and releases heat slowly, averaging out the high and low temperatures of the day.
Habitat for Humanity exists in many countries around the world, and one of the most interesting aspects to their work is that they incorporate the use of readily available materials and resources into their projects. In East Africa, where the soil has a lot of clay, homes are usually built of home-made bricks. In Mongolia, they use huge rocks. In the South Pacific, they go into the rainforest to harvest a hardwood tree. Likewise, available human resources are thoughtfully employed—the whole community comes together to help with the labor, and specialists like masons and framers are brought in as needed.