Monday, May 01, 2006
Rammed Earth Structures
If the production of cement is one of the highest carbon dioxide emitters in the world today, how can we reform the way we build in order to reduce these emissions? One of the answers might lie in the use of rammed earth as a material for construction of buildings.
Julian Keable of Pearce Mccomish says "...Ramming earth has been a method of construction used for centuries in various parts of the world, and is commonly known by its French name Piseg .Earth is extracted from the ground and compacted in layers inside specially constructed formwork. After compaction the formwork is released and moved along to a new position in the wall, or upwards to the next layer. In this way the building goes up rapidly, layer by layer, row by row.
This technique can produce buildings that are strong, durable, safe and desirable. Above all, because earth is an abundant and cheap resource, rammed earth buildings are very economical; in addition, the majority of the investment goes directly into the local economy. The method has an essential simplicity, and with its unskilled labour intensity, rammed earth can be seen as a valuable tool in the generation of low-cost housing in developing countries, in both urban and rural areas.
Well built, rammed earth walls will compare favourably with other masonry materials, such as bumt clay bricks or concrete blocks, in compressive strength, erosion by moisture or seasonal changes of dimension. Costs will also, in most cases, be highly competitive..."
Photos and Illustrations courtesy of Pearce Mccomish