Earth Prism

Architect Sean Connelly’s installation A Small Area of Land (Kaka‘ako Earth Room), a “temporary earth sculpture” made from 32,000 pounds of volcanic soil and coral sand, can currently be seen at the ii gallery in Honolulu, Hawaii. The sculpture is a prismatic monolith with dimensions 7′ tall, 9′ long, and 4′ wide, and it features a single sloping surface that aligns with the position of the sun and moon on a key date in the history of land in Hawaii.

Over the course of the exhibit, the sculpture slowly falls apart as Connelly wanted to see “what a version of this might look like in Hawaii, on Hawaii’s terms.”


Hassan Fathy’s New Gourna

Hassan Fathy’s New Gourna from Oliver Wilkins on Vimeo.

The village of New Gourna was designed and built in the 1940s by the Egyptian Architect Hassan Fathy. He pioneered the use of sustainable materials and environmentally friendly design to build housing for low income families who were being relocated from their original village at Old Gourna.
60 years later, many of the now historic New Gourna buildings have fallen into disrepair and others have disappeared or been changed beyond recognition. A project is underway to safeguard the site, and World Monuments Fund (WMF) commissioned us to produce a film presenting the perspective of the residents…

For more information about WMF’s work at New Gourna, see

Earth Brick Residence

The Earth Brick Residence in Chiba, Japan by Atelier Tekuto is a single story structure comprised of 2,600 compressed earth blocks stabilized with magnesium oxide. The mineral was used for masonry joint for pyramids and Great Wall in China. Its substances are extracted from the ocean or land and can be produced everywhere in the world and resourceful. Also, it is safe as food additive, and harmless enough to return to the ground.

The strength of the bricks is much greater than the traditional sun-baked earth blocks made from animal manure and lime — a process typically seen in developing nations. The different composition used in this project’s earth blocks mean that they surpass Japanese construction standards for strength, one of the most stringent in the world.

The house is the result of The Earth Block Project started in 2008, was developed together with Universities, corporations, and specialists with the idea that construction materials can be made with any soil in the world can be stronger than the existing soil construction materials and return 100% to nature.

[ Read more at ]

House of Earth / Woody Guthrie

“In El Rancho Grande,” by Woody Guthrie (1936; Santa Fe, N.M.), oil on board.

The legendary Woody Guthrie, an American folk singer, was also a brilliant and distinctive prose stylist, whose writing is distinguished by a homespun authenticity, deep-seated purpose and remarkable ear for dialect. These attributes are on vivid display in Guthrie’s long-lost “House of Earth,” his only fully realized, but yet unpublished, novel written as a direct response to the Dust Bowl. In December 1936 the rambling troubadour had an epiphany while busking for tips in New Mexico. He’d traveled there after a treacherous duster whacked the Texas Panhandle town of Pampa, where he’d been living in poverty. While in New Mexico, Guthrie became transfixed by an adobe hacienda’s sturdy rain spouts and soil-straw bricks, a simple yet solid weatherproof structure unlike most of his Texan friends’ homes, which were poorly constructed with flimsy wooden boards and cheap nails.

An immediate convert, Guthrie purchased a nickel pamphlet, “Adobe or Sun-Dried Brick for Farm Buildings,” from the United States Department of Agriculture. The manual instructed poor rural folk on building adobe homes from the cellar up. All an amateur needed was a home-brew of clay loam, straw and water. Guthrie promoted this U.S.D.A. guide with wild-eyed zeal. Adobes, he boasted, would endure the Dust Bowl better than wooden aboveground structures that were vulnerable to wind, snow, dust and termites. If sharecroppers and tenant farmers could only own a piece of land — even the uncultivable territory of arroyos and red rocks — they could build a “house of earth” that would protect them from dirt blowing in through cracks in the walls.

Read more in an article Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp in the New York Times


La arquitectura de Gurunsi (kassena) causó una gran impresión en el arquitecto suizo, Le Corbusier. Esta arquitectura, conocida como casas sukhala, forman poblados fortificados en Tiébélé, Burkina Faso. Se trata de construcciones de adobe que se revisten de barro y posteriormente son adornadas con motivos abstractos, que las mujeres de la tribu pintan sobre fachadas y muros.

Las mujeres de la tribu son las encargadas de reparar las fachadas de las casas, revistiéndolas periódicamente con barro, y decorándolas de nuevo. En primer lugar dan una capa de barro mezclada con excremento de vaca, que extienden con las manos con la ayuda de agua para que éste resbale. Cuando el barro está fresco, dibujan sobre él algunas líneas que marcarán los patrones. Mientras el barro va secando preparan los pigmentos para pintar con arena roja, excremento de vaca más oscuro o polvo de roca. Dejan secar la base inicial, y la repasan con canto rodado, para que la superficie quede completamente pulida. Cuando ha secado por completo, comienzan a pintar con los pigmentos ya preparados, sus motivos geométricos, utilizando las manos o pinceles de plumas de gallina. Finalmente, una vez seco, pulen la superficie con ramas, proceso que se repite hasta tres veces, para garantizar la calidad de ese acabado.

[ More at Sukhala I and Sukhala II ]

Educational Building In Mozambique

Built by students from the Bergen School of Architecture, the Educational Building In Mozambique, consists of a closed room for computer-learning, and an open room for English teaching. Solid walls and the opportunity to close off completely make the computer-room safe in terms of burglary. The open room connects with the outside, is spatial with a tall ceiling and transparent walls embracing the light. A framework of reinforced concrete makes a permanent bearing structure in the closed room. The framing allows for cheaper more temporary materials as in-fillings. We experimented with sandbags in the east and north facade, where they functions as thermal mass in the winter, while an extension of the roof prevents sun exposure during summer.

[ More information at ]

Friend House

The Friend House, designed by the Ukrainian Architecture Office Ryntovt Design, is an eco-hotel located in the forest near the Orel river bank, 30 km from Dnepropertrovsk. The materials used in the construction, clay, reed and wood, draw from the local context—the forest and the river.

More information at and

Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation

The Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation is a private independent organization, financially autonomous and accountable, registered at the Office of Ministry of Industry and Commerce, Hadramut Branch with goal to:

    Set up, operate and manage Architectural Projects including design, infrastructure and urban planning for the rehabilitation of towns and villages, individual sites and buildings

    Carry out Architectural Surveys and documentation; prepare drawings and reports for existing buildings/ sites identified for rehabilitation or restoration and establish their renewal requirements

    Provide specifications and costing for projects based on the above enlisting the expertise and services of Master Builders and craftsmen
    Design of new projects including public and private buildings and extensions, based on sensitive, challenging architectural concepts and use of building materials

    Advise on new projects, design and planning initiatives, taking into account area conservation and rehabilitation legislation building codes and regulations

    Prioritise agricultural development areas, water and spate irrigation and flooding schemes, and assist with setting up organic farming projects
    Assist with organic and industrial waste management

    Publish and disseminate work in progress through Seminars, Conferences and Workshops and liaise with regional and international universities, academics, and professional experts

For more information visit The Daw’an Mud Brick Architecture Foundation website.

Mud Hall at the GSD

Mud Hall is a project initiated by Harvard University’s 2012 Loeb Fellows to promote awareness about rammed earth construction and to challenge conventional thinking about green building. Raw earth is the most plentiful and sustainable building material on the planet, yet architects rarely incorporate it into their designs. To demonstrate the potential of mud and clay for everyday buildings, the Loeb Fellows are enlisting 25 students at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design to construct a rammed earth structure at the entrance to the school’s celebrated Gund Hall. Mud Hall is meant to offer an alternative to the current orthodoxy about sustainable construction.

In addition to the rammed earth installations, an exhibit demonstrating materials, techniques and buildings that demonstrate contemporary earth architecture were presented.

For more information visit the Mud Hall blog, which will chronicle the evolution of the Mud Hall project, and offer detailed information about the rammed earth process.