Rammed earth in Australia
Australia has a great rammed earth heritage, at least since the days of the great gold rush in the 19th century. More recently one of the 20th century’s great written works on rammed earth was by G.F.Middleton, who released the ‘Experimental Building Station #5 Bulletin’. This covered rammed earth, adobe and earth block. Until fairly recently it was the reference work in Australia and the book, along with his “Build Your House of Earth”, which sparked the renewal of the technology in the 1970s.
Middleton was writing for a fast expanding population seeking alternatives to scarce and expensive cement. Neither book refers to cement stabilised rammed earth even in updates as late as 1986, and the illustrations from these publications reproduced here show that Australians have not always lost their nerve when building with earth.
It is unfortunate that the great expansion of what now passes for rammed earth in Australia should actually be low grade concrete. This has distorted the process by increasing transport distances for soil with no clay content, increased price through the use of white cement, removed the adsorbtive quality of earth and increased its embodied energy to at least that of concrete with the same CO2 emissions.
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©2007 Rowland Keable