when i was in morocco two years ago, i was amazed by the ancient beauty and simplicity of many homes and casbahs made completely out of dirt. the walls, which were often more than a foot thick, kept the heat out in the blazing summers, but also maintained warmth in wintertime. when gretchen sent me an email full of images and links to rammed earth architecture, i realized that dirt structures fit perfectly into the dirt chronicles!
rammed earth is precisely that- compacted dirt created by ramming soil, manually or via machine, within a frame. this technique of building, which has been used all over the world, from mali (that’s the great mosque of djenne above!), to morocco, nepal, spain, portugal, china, around the united states & in many other communities, is now being adopted for sustainable building. not only can you use the soil from the construction site itself, it’s energy efficient, fire-proof, termite-proof, low-maintenance, has a small carbon footprint, plus it looks really awesome when it’s done! people have been building with dirt and living in it forever! why stop now?
one particularly interesting organization I came across was design build bluff, a non-profit based in utah that engages architecture students to design and build homes using sustainable building practices and materials to for the navajo nation. since the organization was founded in 2000 they have been using rammed earth techniques, among other techniques, to collectively build homes for families. keep up the good work!