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Rammed earth / adobe construction

Construction murs en pisé (terre crue)
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Construction murs en pisé (terre crue)

Local benefits:

Valuing the ancestral knowledge rammed earth construction.

Travellers benefits:

An lovely construction with very good thermal and sound insulation

Benefits to the environment:

Natural materials.

Description

What are the benefits of rammed earth construction?

It is the oldest building material of the world, and it is almost forgotten ! Buildings made of rammed earth are back on the agenda when it comes to ecological habitations… But why ? Let’s check the various benefits of rammed earth:

  • Natural material found in abundance in most places: it has no bad impact on health, it does not pollute, and it does not produce any waste.
  • Economical: It is possible to build a house  by yourself, using soil, straw, water and sun.
  • Thermal and acoustic insulation is very efficient.
  • Breathable: With a finish coat made of  lime.
  • Aesthetic and unique: Each house made of earth is, like an artwork, the produce of its artisan’s creativity.

What are we exactly talking about?

Different methods of earth-made construction are available (excerpt from the article “Building a house made of rammed earth”

  • Rammed earth (See the video above for an example): A mixture of clay and sand, sifted and moistened. Successive layers of rammed earth are superimposed between wall forms, and then compacted with a pestle.
  • Cob: The soil is  cleaned of rocks, and then mixed with vegetal fibers (sometimes animal) and water as to maintain the cohesiveness of the mixture.
  • Adobe: Mud bricks made of earth mixed with vegetal fibers, molded and sun-dried.
  • Earth blocks: Rammed earth slightly humidified, then compressed  using a mechanical press and stored under tarps.
  • Wattle and daub: Mixture of earth and fibers used within a wood frame.

It is essential to know the clay content of your earth (by doing a sedimentation test for example). For a soil to be an efficient binder, it must be composed of 15 to 35% of clay.

What king of constraints may you face?

The two main disadvantages of rammed earth construction are:

  • Implementation: It takes time, workforce and  know-how.
  • Legislation: In some countries rammed earth buildings are not authorized due to a lack of understanding.

For further information:

Video (in Spanish):

 

Seen at

Name Type of facility Environment Country Swap?
Terra Barichara Hotel Hotels & guest houses rural, zone-chaude Colombia Yes
Casona Distante, Valle Elqui, Chile Casona Distante Ecolodge Hotels & guest houses rural, zone-temperee Chile Yes
Inti Wasi Lodge, Lac Titicaca, Pérou ASTURS & Inti Wasi Lodge Community based tourism, Hotels & guest houses, Packages and tours rural, zone-temperee Peru Yes
Wasipunko Ecolodge, Nasca, Pérou Wasipunko Ecolodge Hotels & guest houses rural, zone-chaude Peru Yes

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