Text description provided by the architects. After the Ludian earthquake in 2014, most of the local rammed-earth buildings in Guangming Village were destroyed. Villagers chose to build brick–concrete houses during the reconstruction period. However, the price of building materials rapidly increased and became unaffordable for most local villagers.
This project innovates the traditional rammed-earth building technology to provide villagers a safe, economical, comfortable, and sustainable reconstruction strategy that the villagers can afford, own, and pass on.
A prototype house has been built for an aged couple to validate the technology and building performance of the innovative rammed-earth building system.
Within a limited land, the design is integrated with the living and semi-outdoor spaces to provide a comfortable and artistic living environment for the aged couple. Double-glazed windows and insulated roof are used to improve the thermal performance of the building.
To improve the seismic performance, the components of the wall are well adjusted using clay, sand, grass, etc. Steel bars and concrete belts are added to the wall to improve structural integrity and to avoid vertical cracking. The concrete belts are hidden in the wall so that the earth facade could be integrated. The quality of the building materials, rammed tools and formwork are increased.
The result of a shaking table test shows that the seismic performance of the rammed-earth building is significantly improved and can meet the local seismic codes.
The “3L” (local technology, local materials, and local labor) strategy has been used in the reconstruction project. The outcome could be summarized into three aspects:
In environmental dimension, the environmental impact of the houses are minimized. Good thermal and daylighting performance guaranteed a low operating energy consumption.
In economic dimension, the construction and operating costs have been minimized to be affordable to local residents. The villagers themselves constructed the houses mainly with manpower and simple tools. They could easily improve and maintain the houses in the future, and utilize this technology as a means of earning their livelihood.
In social dimension, local residents are fully engaged in the entire process of reconstruction. Local government and multidisciplinary university resources are used to supported rural reconstruction. We protected the local traditional rammed-earth construction method and lifestyle by improving its building performance with a simple strategy and local materials.
In the subsequent stage, this anti-seismic earth building system will be applied to more rural projects in Southwest China. This strategy will also provide guidance for local reconstruction policies and rammed-earth building standards.