The hundreds of thousands of Texans living in a desert or semitropical climate should stop building and buying wood- or steel-frame houses that will require expensive amendments. A better option is to dig the earth, toss it into a mixer with water and straw, mold it into forty-pound bricks, sun-dry them, and build a dream house of adobe that fits like a skin. The result would be an entire region of nontoxic, thermally comfortable buildings, handmade with few tools.

Swan is the founder of the Adobe Alliance, based in Presidio.

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