Made from locally quarried aggregate, rammed earth buildings usually have low embodied energy and there is very little waste during the construction phase, including low use of timber as the formwork can be removed and reused.
For the life of the building, rammed earth buildings remain energy efficient. Using stabilised earth as a building material, Earth Structures houses offer outstanding thermal performance, particularly in climates with variable day-night temperatures.
The buildings have superior strength and durability, with no need for paint or other toxic finishes so that minimal maintenance is required. With no wall cavities, they are also pest proof and fire proof.
Rammed earth construction has its roots in Neolithic China, with evidence of rammed earth walls found in archaeological sites dating back to 5000BC in Yangshao and Longshan cultures of the Yellow River Valley. By 2000BC rammed earth architectural techniques were commonly used for walls and foundations across China.
It also became popular in other parts of the world such as Africa, The Americas and Europe. The Romans built many rammed earth structures throughout Europe. According to historians, along France’s Rhone River there were thousands of rammed earth buildings.
In the 1800s rammed earth was popularised in the United States through the book ‘Rural Economy’ by S.W. Johnson. The method was used to construct the Borough House Plantation in 1821, the largest complex of ‘pise de terre’ (rammed earth) buildings in the United States, now listed as a US National Historic Landmark.
Over the last 20 years, rammed earth has re-emerged as the construction method of choice for environmentally conscious homeowners, architects and builders.