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Mister Zoli and the Old House

Updated: May 10

(Originally posted to Facebook on August 19 2020

Yesterday mister Zoli paid us a visit.

Mister Zoli is over eighty years old now, and has spent his life repairing and restauring old traditional clay (loam) houses like ours. He has even built new ones.

Corona in mind we did not exchange hugs (luckily Covid 19 has remained a rare phenomenon in these parts, and the whole pandemic often seems a bit unreal and faraway viewed from here), and in any case mister Zoli stopped by to look at the outside of our house, not the inside.

He is a master in the century-old techniques of clay building, a traditional knowledge that has been passed on from generation to generation for ages.

He was so kind as to offer us his advice on how to repair and maintain our 120 year old house.

Houses like this were built with clay, straw, horsehair wood and handmade roof tiles. That was it.

The clay was often dug up on the plot of land where the house was being built.

When a house like this had to be demolished, the villagers used to just remove the roof, doors and windows, and eventually the clay house would melt back into the soil it came from.

These houses are like living beings: they breathe, move and ask for attention and care.

It is a privilege to be able to care for an old presence like this, which is not primitive at all, quite the contrary.

This house is better equipped to withstand the elements than many contemporary houses, it is energy-efficient, offers natural airco through breathing walls that are up to three feet thick, and stays completely dry inside in every season.

We can learn so much from this ancient way of building in harmony with nature and surroundings.


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