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Book Chapter

13. Earthen architecture

Published:
January 01, 2006

Abstract

Earthen architecture can be defined as building where the main constructional material is unfired earth. Load-bearing walls, infilling of walls, roof structures, roof finishes and furniture can be constructed from earth.

Earth suitable for building is generally a well-graded subsoil with a good distribution of clay, silt, sand and aggregate. It should be noted that the clay component is essential for providing cohesion and plasticity during construction, and strength during service. The inevitable variation in subsoils including the moisture content has resulted in a number of manufacturing and construction techniques. This versatility of earth makes it possible to build with earth in cold wet climates such as Britain and hot dry climates such as Morocco.

Variations in soil types, diverse climatic conditions and a wide range of building techniques and numerous architectural details have resulted in culturally and geographically distinctive architecture. These differences are precious for the survival of local distinctiveness. To match this diversity earthen architecture has generated variation within its nomenclature. Clay, loam, soil, mud or earthen architecture are interchangeable terms used to describe the same type of building, where earth is the major constructional material. The name of the same construction techniques also differs from country to country and sometime across regions. For instance the earth building technique known as cob in Devon is called clom in South Wales, dob in Cornwall and witchert in Buckinghamshire, bauge in France, and

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Geological Society, London, Engineering Geology Special Publications

Clay Materials Used in Construction

G. M. Reeves
G. M. Reeves
UHI Millennium Institute, Thurso, UK
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I. Sims
I. Sims
STATS Limited, St Albans, UK
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J. C. Cripps
J. C. Cripps
University of Sheffield, UK
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Geological Society of London
Volume
21
ISBN electronic:
9781862393837
Publication date:
January 01, 2006

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