EBUK 2014: Earth Building United Kingdom Conference

The 2014 EBUK conference “Training in Earth Building: from design to construction” will be held in Norwich on 14th February 2014. The broad conference theme includes education and training in building with earth, training in the structural and thermal design of earth buildings, training in safe and reliable construction methods and in the appropriate use of earth as a building material. The conference will showcase design, construction, conservation and research in the UK. Papers and presenters will engage with the conference theme and broader context of building with earth in the UK.


Alderney Stones

A new site-specific installation of works by Andy Goldsworthy opened on the island of Alderney, located in the Bailiwick of Guernsey in the English Channel Islands. Alderney Stones consists of an installation of 11 boulders spread across the landscape of Alderney.

Goldsworthy formed each 3-ton boulder from a mold of rammed earth and other materials sourced from the island, such as berries, seeds, old tools and discarded gloves.

Set in varying degrees of exposure to the elements, the stones will eventually erode, revealing the elements concealed inside, and ultimately return to the land from which they came.

How to Survive the Coming Bad Years

How to Survive the Coming Bad Years, 2008. Soil, straw, water, timber, lime and ceramic pipes. Attingham Park, Shropshire, UK. Commissioned by Meadow Arts for the exhibition Give Me Shelter

In an ancient woodland at the core of Attingham’s vast 4,000 acre land, an immense clay structure rises through the trees like an oversized Dalek. Both alien and primeval, How to Survive the Coming Bad Years, by Heather and Ivan Morrison, is inspired by traditional rookeries found throughout the Middle East where in return for shelter, the birds provide squab to eat and guano to fertilise the land on which food is cultivated. Ivan and Heather Morison’s huge lime covered cob sculpture suggests the vestige of an other worldly civilisation or perhaps a post-apocalyptic future. In this case the structure will provide a nesting environment for Attingham’s bird-life, but in return they must give up a share of their young.

Abey Smallcombe

Cob Visitor Facility, Eden Project

Abey Smallcombe is a collaboration between artists Jackie Abey and Jill Smallcombe. Their craft is working with cob, earth plasters and other natural beautiful, sustainable materials. They have successfully carried out a number of large and smaller scale commissions for, the Eden Project, Somerset College of Arts and Technology, The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Met Office, National Trust, Sustrans Cycle Paths. They have also exhibited nationally, taught all age groups, lectured internationally and researched earth structures in Europe, USA, India, Africa and Australia.

Modern Rammed Chalk

Credit: The White balance

Dan Brill Architects has designed a £50,000 extension to an Edwardian home on the outskirts of Winchester using rammed chalk. The chalk, which makes up the soil of the site was considered as it is a traditional technique in the region and because of the large amount of excavation required to accommodate the addition.

Credit: The White balance

The clients, who wanted something contemporary and innovative, appreciated rammed earth and more so the pristine appearance of the stark, white chalk walls. The material has been used in modern construction in the Pines Calyx project. It was also used in the construction of eight experimental cottages at the Department of Industrial Science and Research at Amesbury between 1919 and 1921. Construction is slated for later this year.

Radiolaria Pavilion

Andrea Morgante, founder of Shiro Studio, has collaborated with D-Shape to produce the Radiolaria pavilion, a complex, free-form structure produced using the world’s largest 3D printer. Measuring 3 x 3 x 3 metres, the structure is a scale model of a final 10-metre tall pavilion to be built in Pontedera, Italy, in 2010. D-Shape developed the first large-scale stereolithic printer in 2008 aiming to offer architects the design freedom that rapid prototyping allows them but has so far been confined to scale models. When D-Shape commissioned Andrea Morgante the design for the first large-scale structure to be printed the ultimate aim was to produce a geometry that could be self-supporting and demonstrate the capabilities of this innovative technology: being made of artificial sand-stone material and without any internal steel reinforcement the pavilion’s design and execution had to be intrinsically resilient to several static stresses.

The printing process takes place in a continuous work session: during the printing of each section a ‘structural ink’ is deposited by the printer’s nozzles on the sand. The solidification process takes 24 hours to complete. The new material (inorganic binder + sand or mineral dust) has been subjected to traction, compression and bending tests. The results have been extraordinary and the artificial sandstone features excellent resistance properties. Effectively this process returns any type of sand or mineral dust back to its original compact stone state. The binder transforms any kind of sand or marble dust into a stone-like material (i.e. a mineral with microcrystalline characteristics) with a resistance and traction superior to portland cement, to a point where there is no need to use iron to reinforce the structure. This artificial stone is chemically one hundred percent environmentally friendly.

Andy Goldsworthy on Alderney Island

Photo: Jacob Ehrenberg, Copyright © 2009 National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.

British artist, Andy Goldsworthy, is planning to produce a work using 4 to 5ft (1.2 to 1.5m) “stones” made from objects embedded in rammed earth. The stones will eventually disintegrate to reveal whatever material he decides to leave inside each one. Each stone will be made with earth containing materials and objects. These will be incorporated into each stone as it is being constructed and might be rocks, branches, bones, tools, seeds, clothes, beach debris or anything else.

The project is reminiscent of Smiljan Radic’s Casa del Carbonero. This is not Goldsworthy’s first foray into earth art. His project, Clay Wall, is a large clay plastered wall that uses human hair from his home village as a binder.