Folder Earth


Earthen buildings, in their many forms around the world, can be thought of as clay-based concrete, as opposed to cement-based concrete. Many are, yes, mere mud huts, but many are magnificent architectural gems, and very effective as shelter. 

And they are cheap, so that's what the poorest of the poor throughout history have had to use - thus the strong association of earthen building with squalor. But some of the most effective and lovely new structures anywhere are made with earth, signals of a worldwide renaissance of earthen architecture.


Folder Adobe


Unfired mud or clay brick

Folder Bags, Tubes, Tires

Bags, Tubes, Tires

Contained earthen construction

Folder Cast Earth

Cast Earth

Stabilized and unstabilized earth sprayed or poured into formwork

Folder Cob


Hand packed and hand sculpted earth (no framework)

Folder Compressed Earth Block

Compressed Earth Block

Stabilized and unstabilized earth blocks with mechanical compression

Folder Miscellaneous Earth

Miscellaneous Earth

There are so many ways to build with clay

Folder Plaster


Also called "render"

Folder Rammed Earth

Rammed Earth

Mechanically compacted earth using formwork, both stabilized and unstabilized


Modern and historic earth buildings: Observations of the 4th September 2010 Darfield earthquake, Morris, Walker, and Drumsteen, 2011 Popular

Survey of seismic damage to New Zealand earth buildings. Ten modern style houses using rammed earth, adobe, pressed earth brick, and poured earth technologies were surveyed in October 2010 following the Darfield earthquake. A further survey identified shaking damage to pressed earth brick houses which require better detailing. Four unreinforced historic, or reconstructed, cob and sod cottages and three historic cob houses were investigated. Two cottages with earth walls from the 1860’s were the most severely damaged, reconstruction needs to preserve the original material components.  

Review of Earthen Building Codes and Standards from Around the World, Bruce King PE, 2006 Popular

  A large number of earthen building codes, norms, guidelines and standards have appeared around the world over the past few decades, along with a considerable amount of research and field observations regarding the seismic performance of earthen structures. This paper presents a review and summary comparison of extant codes and standards in terms of content (methods of earthen building covered, material properties, tests, and quality control, and engineering design and retrofit criteria), and style (clarity and method of presentation, presence or absence of commentary or clarifying notes and details). The paper will also review these documents in terms of consistency with current knowledge about seismic design and behavior of earthen structures, and emerging understanding of building science and moisture issues. Also considered will be the range of perspectives represented in terms of local seismicity, climate and rainfall, and affluence (affordability). Documents reviewed include 2005 ASTM earthen building standards, 1998 New Zealand Earthen Building Standards, 2004 New Mexico Earthen Building Materials Code, 2001 California Historical Building Code, 2003 International Building Code, 1993 Indian earthen building standards, 2000 Peruvian earthen building standards, 2002 Australian Earth Building Handbook, proceedings from the 2005 Sismoadobe Colloquium in Lima, and other pertinent documents.  

Terra 2008: Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage, Bamako, Mali, 2008 Popular

Terra:2008, Proceedings of the 10th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage, Bamako, Mali, 2008, organized by the Getty Conservation Institute and the Mali Ministry of Culture. Contents: Earthern Architecture in Mali, Conservation of Living Sites, Local Knowledge Systems and Intangible Aspects of Earthern Archtiecture, Conservation and Management of Archeological Sites, Advances in Research, Seismic and other Natural Forces, Challenges and Opportunities of Conservation and Development, Standards and Guidelines for New and Existing Structures, Training.