Building with Soil

When people hear of certain civilizations building homes with soil, the first word that comes to mind is ancient.  Such an ancient technique of building that many people in this modern world overlook.  Well, sometimes what has been practiced for thousands of years is not necessarily wrong, but new, cheaper, quicker, methods of building become trendsetters.  I have done some reading on alternative building methods or commonly known as green or eco-friendly building.  I have come to find that many homes built with earthen materials, if constructed properly, last up to centuries long with minimal damage and repair.  The great thing about earthen homes is that they rarely, if at all, use unnatural building materials. 

        Common materials for structural support are things such as adobe, rammed earth, cob, and straw bale. If u know anything about any of these materials you would realize that they all come from the earth and are supported by soil or are in fact soil.  Adobe, or otherwise known as dried up clay with some sand mixed in, can be molded and packed into rectangular frames and laid out to dry in the sun.  These bricks would then be used by stacking in an orderly fashion with earthen clay based mortar to bond them together.  Rammed earth on the other hand is clay poured into a movable structure that is then rammed with a tamper in order to compact it as to allow for a solid structure to form.  Both adobe and rammed earth are straight clay. 

       Clay can be mixed in with other natural materials such as straw, sand, and water to for a mix that is commonly referred to as cob.  Cob is a sturdy mixture that when evenly mixed can provide great structural support.  The straw acts as a tinsel to provide structure and insulation.  The great thing about cob is that it allows for ideas and immagination to branch out into differnt forms of artwork.  Cob can be molded into many forms, allowing for structures uncommon in stick or timber frame construction. 

        The last thing I mentioned that provides the soil in order to grow is straw.  Homes built out of straw bales are very common in the southwest United States.  Not only is straw produced from the earth but so are the trees we harvest for timber and wood frame construction and the bamboo we used for alternative homes.  Bamboo is actually considered a grass and many forms reach adulthood in just 3-5 years, making it a sustainable material.  For many of our everyday building practices to continue, we must learn to take care of the soil and learn how to grow sustainably rather than for quick production and greed.  Taking care of the soil can effect areas such as those mentioned above, something un-thought of until I recently realized the importance of soil.

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One Response to Building with Soil

  1. ccaammii says:

    haha this was really interesting! There’s so much you’ve never heard before that everyone bring up in this blog. Cob seem like a really good material for making a house. And it can look really beautiful too! Look at these:
    I would love to have that in my house, especially the picture when they made art in the wall.
    I can imagine Cob being a trend in future homes
    I don’t really understand the straws though… wouldn’t that look weird? I don’t know, and I have no idea how a straw house would look like

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