BDE Podcast – Unstabilised Rammed Earth pt.1

  • Building Design Expert
  • 7 years ago

BuildingDesignExpert Podcast – Unstabilised Rammed Earth pt.1


In my introduction to this podcast I describe this type of walling as a “niche” construction. How many times have you seen “rammed Earth Walling” in your recent travels around any building site? – I thought so – not too many then!! Rowland Keable is one of the few exponents of the art. I say Art, because like very many of the traditional construction techniques resurrected from yesteryear, Rammed Earth has been brought very much into the 21st century in its execution. If you want beauty, the aesthetic is there to be had, but listening to Rowland, it’s the shear simplicity of the technique providing a truly greater sustainable solution, coupled with the advantages and consistency provided by current technology that is the real bonus.

You can listen to Rowland on this podcast and watch the NBS video for a more complete over-view of the pros and cons of the tightly compacting selected earth into temporary formwork. – Formwork!!? Isn’t that for concrete? sure, but this is where old meets new providing a surprising result.

This podcast is approximately 31 minutes long

incidental music by AlexanderWilson

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You can view the “Unstabilised Rammed Earth video” by clicking the link

The use of compacted earth as a building material is common in many countries, but despite its apparent abundance, use of earth as a building material remains relatively rare in the UK. As well as looking at the properties of rammed earth, or pise, this programme asks whether concrete should be added as a stabiliser, the issue of cost, and along the way we look at some high-profile failures and successes.

Key learning points:

  • Explains the changes and the reason for the changes… and when they come into force
  • What are the properties of rammed earth walls and how are they constructed
  • What codes and standards are there for rammed earth construction?
  • Why is rammed earth construction comparatively expensive?
  • What causes some rammed earth walls to fail?

About the contributors

Rowland Keable, founder Rammed Earth Consulting CIC has been building with rammed earth since 1985, across Africa and Australia, and in the UK since 1999 including walls at The Eden Project and the UK’s tallest at the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales.

As well as building, he has co-authored a couple of books and a BRE guide for rammed earth construction, taught in schools of architecture, engineering and surveying, and run workshops for a wide range of people.

Pat Borer, architect with over 35 years’ experience in designing and constructing ‘green’ buildings. He has been closely involved with the Centre for Alternative Technology in Wales with the design and development of ultra-low energy buildings, passive and active solar heating systems, photovoltaic roofs, benign building materials and technologies, co-operative ways of building and healthy internal environments.

Elsewhere in the country, Pat has been developing ecological timber frame designs for the self-build housing sector.

Text and video courtesy NBS TV