Living Off the Earth

One of the most appreciative traits of rural communities is that they live off the earth; the use of natural resources, the methods of building using materials that are found around them and the need to effectively use for their food, clothes and equipment, what is naturally available to them.

The needs for a house to live in are numerable today. But primitive housing served to provide basic needs- security from intruders and animals, sleeping and living spaces and protection from the environment. Because of primitive man’s primary concern for shelter, the architecture was determined by the climate.[i]

An apt example of this is the construction of the Taos Pueblo in New Mexico. A Pueblo is a Spanish term to describe the communities of South America. It was a unit of a settlement that was is a nucleated rural village. The demands of agrarian routine and the need for defence, the simple desire for human society in the vast solitude of, dictated that it should be surrounded by fields and separated by considerable distance from neighbours.[ii] The architecture used in the pueblo shows the influence of the climate and available resources.


The hot and dry climate of the desert scape required housing that was compact with minimum openings that were made of materials that would cool down the interiors. The Pueblo is made entirely out of adobe- a mixture of mud, water and straw made into bricks and sun dried. Thick walls are constructed and wood from mountain forests are hauled to the site to make door and window frames. Houses were built side by side with common walls. In earlier days, the houses were only accessed by a ladder through the roof for the sake of security.[iii]

In most cases, the architecture of a rural community is evident of the type of climate in the area and the available materials. Culture, family typology and anthropometrics were also factors that influenced rural architecture.

[i] House, Form and Culture – Amos Rappaport  [ii] Richard A. Fletcher  [iii] Taos Pueblo information