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Rammed Earth Building Review

Rammed Earth Building Review

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Published by Peter W Gossner
A Review of Rammed Earth Construction

Rammed earth walls are formed by compacting damp soil between temporary forms.
Together with other forms of unbaked earthen construction, such as mud-brick, rammed
earth has a long and continued history throughout many regions of the world. Major
centres of rammed earth construction include North Africa, Australasia, regions of
North and South America, China and Europe, including France, Germany and Spain.
Rammed earth or pisé construction has been practised in the UK for well over 200 years.
Throughout the nineteenth century a significant number of rammed earth and rammed
chalk buildings were built in Wessex. Following WWI a series of experimental rammed
earth and chalk houses were built in Amesbury, Wiltshire. However, it is the revival over
the past 10 or so years that has led to this review of rammed earth construction,
undertaken as part of the DTi Partners in Innovation project `Developing rammed earth
construction for UK housing'. The project seeks to promote the use of rammed earth
construction in the UK through the publication and dissemination of a set of design and
construction guidance notes.
The review comprises a study of the current state of the art of rammed earth
construction as published in over 200 books, journal and conference papers, scientific
reports and other articles. In addition to the literature review recent and historic rammed
earth projects in the UK have also been studied and these findings are presented as well.
This combined literature and project review forms an important contribution to the
process of writing the guidance notes.
A Review of Rammed Earth Construction

Rammed earth walls are formed by compacting damp soil between temporary forms.
Together with other forms of unbaked earthen construction, such as mud-brick, rammed
earth has a long and continued history throughout many regions of the world. Major
centres of rammed earth construction include North Africa, Australasia, regions of
North and South America, China and Europe, including France, Germany and Spain.
Rammed earth or pisé construction has been practised in the UK for well over 200 years.
Throughout the nineteenth century a significant number of rammed earth and rammed
chalk buildings were built in Wessex. Following WWI a series of experimental rammed
earth and chalk houses were built in Amesbury, Wiltshire. However, it is the revival over
the past 10 or so years that has led to this review of rammed earth construction,
undertaken as part of the DTi Partners in Innovation project `Developing rammed earth
construction for UK housing'. The project seeks to promote the use of rammed earth
construction in the UK through the publication and dissemination of a set of design and
construction guidance notes.
The review comprises a study of the current state of the art of rammed earth
construction as published in over 200 books, journal and conference papers, scientific
reports and other articles. In addition to the literature review recent and historic rammed
earth projects in the UK have also been studied and these findings are presented as well.
This combined literature and project review forms an important contribution to the
process of writing the guidance notes.

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Published by: Peter W Gossner on Aug 02, 2010
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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07/04/2013

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Project Partners 
o
University of Bath 
o
Insitu Rammed Earth 
o
 Mark Lovell Design Engineers 
o
Engineers Haskins Robinson Waters 
o
CADRE Architects 
o
Knauf Insulation 
o
Day Contracting 
Steering Group Members 
o
Bristol City Council 
o
Building Research Establishment 
o
Ecology Building Society 
o
Feilden Clegg & Bradley Architects 
o
IHCM 
o
Grimshaw Architects 
o
Simmonds.Mills architect.builders 
o
Somerset Trust for Sustainable Development 
 A Review of Rammed Earth Construction
 for 
DTi Partners in Innovation Project‘Developing Rammed Earth for UK Housing’
May 2003
Prepared by: Vasilios Maniatidis & Peter WalkerNatural Building Technology GroupDepartment of Architecture & Civil Engineering University of BathBath BA2 7AY  Telephone: 01225 386646Facsimile: 01225 386691
 
 
 Acknowledgements
 This review could not have been possible without the contribution from a number of individuals who allowed us to visit them in their homes and workplaces or gave up theirtime to be interviewed by phone. We are particularly grateful to Adele Mills, Andy Simmonds, Bill Swaney, Cindy Harris, Colin Williams, David Sheppard, Gordon Pearson, John Renwick, Jolyon Brewis, Kate Cheng, Marion & Francis Chalmers, Mark Lovell,Martin Waters, Mr & Mrs Adcock, Mr & Mrs Francis, Mr & Mrs Kinder, Mr F Westmoreland, Mr I West, Mr M H Roberts, Mrs S Cox,Mrs S Farley, Neal Barnes, NigelPhillips, Pat Borer, Peter Clegg, Peter Trotman, Rowland Keable and Tim Hewitt. We also gratefully acknowledge the support of the DTi, project partners and steering group members, without whose support this project would not have been possible.Figures 5.4, 5.9 and 5.10 are reproduced from New Zealand Standard NZS 4299: “EarthBuildings not requiring specific design”, with kind permission from Standards New Zealand.Figures 5.5, 5.6 and 5.7 are reproduced from “Adobe and Rammed Earth Buildings” by Paul McHenry, with kind permission from Carol McHenry and UA press.Figures 3.7 and 5.8 are reproduced from Standards Association of Zimbabwe StandardSAZS 724:2001 “Rammed earth structures”, with kind permission from Standards Association of Zimbabwe.
 
 
- i -
Contents
 Acknowledgments
1
Introduction
1
 
2
National Rammed Earth Codes
2.1 Outline 22.2 Australia 22.3 Germany 32.4 New Zealand 3
 
2.5 Spain 4
 
2.6 USA (New Mexico) 5
 
2.7 Zimbabwe 52.8 Other countries 5
 
2.9 Summary 5
3
Materials in Rammed Earth Construction
3.1 Outline 63.2 Soil Specification 63.2.1 Colour 63.2.2 Particle Size Distribution 73.2.2.1 Ideal Distribution 73.2.2.2 Test Procedure s 73.2.2.3 Selection criteria for Natural Rammed Earth 83.2.2.4 Selection criteria for Cement Stabilized Rammed Earth 93.2.3 Plasticity 113.3 Properties of Natural Rammed Earth 123.3.1 Dry Density 123.3.2 Mechanical Strength 133.3.2.1 Compressive Strength 13(a) Field Tests 13(b) Laboratory Tests 14(c) Field Testing Walls 153.3.2.2 Tensile Strength 163.3.2.3 Bending Strength 163.3.2.4 Shear Strength 173.3.3 Durability 173.2.3.1 Rainfall erosion 173.2.3.2 Freeze-thaw erosion 183.3.4 Shrinkage 183.3.5 Surface Finish and Texture 193.3.6 Thermal Properties 19

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