Rammed earth has been used in construction for thousands of years, with evidence of its use dating as far back as the Neolithic Period. Commonly used especially in China, the technique was applied to both ancient monuments and vernacular architecture, with the Great Wall utilizing the technique. Though interest in rammed earth declined in the 20th century, some continue to advocate its use today, citing its sustainability in comparison to more modern construction methods. Most notably, rammed earth structures use local materials, meaning they have low embodied energy and produce little waste. Below, we describe how to build with this material.
The dramatic improvement in recent decades in our understanding of sustainable design has shown that designing sustainably doesn't have to be a compromise—it can instead be a benefit. When done correctly, sustainable design results in higher-performing, healthier buildings which contribute to their inhabitants' physical and mental well-being.
The benefits of incorporating vegetation in façades and in roofs, as well as materials and construction systems that take energy use and pollution into account, demonstrate that sustainable design has the potential to create buildings that improve living conditions and respect the natural environment.
Below we have compiled 30 plans, sections and construction details of projects that stand out for their approach to sustainability.
This week, we're highlighting a selection of the best images of projects built using rammed earth. These 15 works show the attractive aesthetic finish created by the superposition of multiple layers of compressed soil. Despite having been neglected as a construction technique for years, this type of construction is now experiencing a renaissance in architecture. Read on for a selection of images from prominent photographers such as Filip Dujardin, João Morgado, and Nic Lehoux.
Terra Award, the first international prize for contemporary earthen architectures, has released a shortlist of 40 projects competing for awards in nine categories. The finalists selected span five continents and 67 countries. Each entry was evaluated on a range of topics including: architectural quality and landscape integration, environmental approach and energy performance, creativity and innovation, technical performance, local economy and social intensity, and showcasing of skills. Project materials range from light clay to cob, poured earth, wattle and daub, compressed earth block (CEB), adobe, rammed earth, and others.