Rammed Earth: Creating a 500-Year House
A design-build team demonstrates the durability of an ancient material.
Synopsis: Rammed-earth construction has many benefits, including low embodied energy, recylability, low energy loads, and longevity. This article describes the technique of building with rammed earth, including a section drawing of a rammed-earth wall assembly. Terrell Wong and Sylvia Cook, specialists in the design and construction of rammed-earth homes, describe the benefits of working with rammed earth, and explain that it remains a fringe method due to lack of both knowledge and building codes in the United States. The article includes a case study of a rammed-earth home, including floor plans and descriptions of the advantages of building with rammed earth, from maintaining consistent temperature and inhibiting mold growth to aesthetic beauty.
The rammed-earth construction technique is several thousand years old and is thought to have originated independently in both China, where original rammed-earth sections of the Great Wall are still standing, and the Iberian Peninsula. Other examples include the…