The sun beats down, chickens scurry about and music sounds from under the tarp of a makeshift kitchen. The morning clouds part, giving way to the sight of the partly snow-covered, active Popocatepetl volcano in the distance. Along the streets of Hueyapan, Morelos, debris still lies scattered from the deadly 7.1 magnitude earthquake of September 2017. The quake’s epicentre lies just 60km south of here.
Resident Pablo Cuauhtémoc Saavedra Castellanas stands next to the beginnings of what will be his family’s new home. But unlike many of his neighbours, Saavedra is not using concrete blocks to rebuild. The material he’s using is called superadobe. As an earth-based material, it doesn’t require outside resources. And, perhaps most excitingly for locals in this seismically active area, it is earthquake resistant.
Polypropylene bags filled with a mixture of earth and lime are stacked on top of each other. The walls of the house are caked with three layers of dirt, lime, ground grasses and horse manure. Saavedra’s roof is currently a tarp; later, the tarp will be replaced with locally made clay tiles that have been part of the regional architecture for centuries.