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  • Writer's pictureRobert Andrushko

Rammed Earth: Using the earth itself to create buildings and walls.

Rammed Earth is also known as: Pise (French) – Arde (Germanic) – Tapia (Spanish) - hāngtǔ (夯土) (Chinese) .

Rammed Earth is perhaps the oldest building technique known to man.

Making rammed earth involves compacting a damp mixture of sub soil that has suitable proportions of sand, gravel, clay, and stabilizer (cement) into a formwork (an externally supported frame or mold).

Historically, additives such as lime, animal blood, volcanic ash and other binders were used to stabilize it.

Rammed Earth has been around for millennia and its use in construction has seen a resurgence within the North American construction market.

The most abundant building material on Earth; Utilizing the Earth itself.

Rammed Earth has experienced a revival within the North American construction market over the past few years.

Many construction firms have entered the market and have begun to offer custom homes built of Rammed Earth and it is a unique and extremely efficient manner of construction. A large number of jurisdictions around the world have existing or new standards of construction and recognize the benefits of this ancient building methodology.

Building Code Standards from other jurisdictions:

•Australian Earth Building Handbook

•California Historical Building Code

•Chinese Building Standards

•Ecuadorian Earthen Building Standards

•German Earthen Building Standards

•Indian Earthen Building Standards

•International Building Code / provisions for adobe construction

•New Mexico Earthen Building Materials Code

•New Zealand Earthen Building Standards

•Peruvian Earthen Building Standards

Canada has numerous homes and historical structures built using Rammed Earth, one of the oldest is a local Rammed Earth example: St. Thomas Anglican Church (Shanty Bay, Ontario). This church was built of rammed earth or pisé de terre or simply pisé between 1838 and 1841 by local craftsmen. The axe marks

on the hand hewn wooden forms used for the rammed earth are still visible. Its steep pitched roof, lancet windows and entrance tower are typical of Gothic Revival churches. It was consecrated on February 27, 1842 and is still an active Anglican church. The Commanding Officer of the now Grey and Simcoe Foresters Reserve Regiment of the Canadian Armed Forces, Lieutenant Colonel O'Brien was responsible for commissioning the construction.


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