Earth Building

Earth Building is the practice of building using unfired earth material. Earth is used to construct walls, floors, roofs and even furniture, fireplaces and ovens. It is a building technology with an 11,000-year-old history and tradition, which is utilised worldwide. Today it is estimated that between one third to one half of the world’s population are housed in earth homes.

The common feature in all earth building techniques is that the earth material is subsoil that is composed of clay, silt, and sand where clay is the binder or cementing ingredient and that the drying process is through the evaporative effect of sun drying.

The methods and techniques used are as varied as the people of the earth, the resources available to them and the climates in which they are used.

There are at least 12 methods of earth building used and these can be further divided into a total of at least 18 techniques.

Perhaps the best known methods are:

  • Earth Brick (Mudbrick/Adobe)
    • Mud brick is the most popular name used in Australia to describe bricks made from various compositions of soil and dried at air temperature in the brick production stage.
    • There are almost as many ways of making mud bricks as there are mud brick makers. One major distinction however is the consistency and water content of the material at the time of forming into bricks. With puddled mud bricks, the moisture content is quite high and the texture is that of mud or dough. With pressed mud bricks the moisture content is lower and the consistency is that of damp soil.
  • Rammed Earth (Pise)
    • Rammed earth is damp or moist earth, with or without any additive, that is rammed (tamped ) in place between temporary moveable formwork. It is a solid masonry wall which does not have, and does not need, any cavity.
    • Australia leads the world in modern rammed earth construction, both in quality and volume of projects built.