In a time when people are looking forward to a greener, more sustainable and more positive future, they are looking back – into the past – to get some inspirations from brilliant solutions created by ancient cultures.
In the field of construction, this more ecologically aware perspective is seen in the way architects and engineers are designing buildings that make the best use of natural and replaceable elements in the most responsible way. Today, there is an increasing number of homes and commercial and public structures that make use of green building techniques. Construction teams that build dwellings using the principles of green architecture aim to make every project as environmentally friendly as possible from day zero — from the first stage of the construction process, to the choice of construction materials, to the way the building will be utilised by its inhabitants.
Buildings made of rammed earth are made using soil materials composed of successive layers of subsoil, clay, sand, gravel and other elements. Mostly, the soul is sourced from the site itself, which reduces the fuel and energy required for transporting materials, as what happens in most conventional construction techniques. Also, unlike with traditional stick houses, building rammed earth homes does not require the use of excessive timber to be used as form work for every project. Instead, the clay is stacked together according to the home plans, and left to dry and harden, forming a thick, dense, and highly durable wall that can last for hundreds of years.
Aside from the low-emission construction process, a finished rammed earth building continues to be earth-friendly as it is being used by the inhabitants, thanks to the energy efficiency it brings. The solid walls provide great insulation, ventilation and superior indoor temperature stabilisation, reducing the need to use ventilation, air-conditioning and heating systems and therefore lowering power bills.
The cost savings are further experienced from the lowered expenses in maintenance and upkeep. The thickness of the structure makes it impenetrable to rodents, insects, ants and vermin. The surfaces do not deteriorate even under extreme winds and weather, and the entire structure can also resist fire (there are no flammable components) and can withstand most earthquakes.
The raw earth that composes a rammed earth home shows a brownish-reddish tone that many people find stunning and breathtaking. There is no need for paint and other toxic substances to prettify the place, as the resulting structure is naturally beautiful, unbelievably strong and perfectly suitable for sustainable living.