Ricola Herb Centre

The Ricola Herb Centre in Laufen (Basel), Switzerland was designed in 2012 by renowned architects Herzog & de Mueron with a facade constructed by master clay builder Martin Rauch, the building is a high-volume long building with flat roof and façade built using the rammed earth. Façade elements made of compacted local clay sourced from the Laufen valley will form Europe’s largest loam building by 2014. From spring 2014, Ricola’s herb processing activities will be entirely carried out at a single location. Distinctive features of the brand new production building are high energy efficiency and state-of-the-art green building principles.

The new building reveals many aspects of Ricola’s strong commitment to its production location in Switzerland and at home in Laufen. Its self-appointed high goals for ecology and sustainability are consistently pursued: Logistics efficiency and the sensible use of resources are at the forefront for this project. The new building will be completely constructed using loam sourced from the Laufen valley. Lehm Ton Erde Baukunst GmbH (LTE), a specialist company based in the Vorarlberg alpine region in Switzerland, manufactures the prefabricated façade elements. Production is housed in a temporary hall in the neighboring town of Zwingen where LTE practices a newly developed procedure. No elements are used other than natural and organic earth from Laufen.

More information at: [ www.lehmtonerde.at/en/projects/project.php?pID=87 | www.ricola.com/en-ch/Meta/Media/Press-releases/Ricola-Herb-Center ]

El X Congreso Internacional de Arquitectura de Tierra

El X Congreso Internacional de Arquitectura de Tierra tendrá lugar los días 27, 28 y 29 de septiembre, en Cuenca de Campos, provincia de Valladolid. El día 27 el congreso comenzará en Valladolid, en la Escuela Técnica Superior de Arquitectura. El 28 y el 29 nos desplazaremos desde Valladolid a Cuenca de Campos. Se disfrutará de una visita al laboratorio y un taller de tierra a cargo de José María Sastre. El grupo TIERRA os anima a participar en el congreso, como asistentes y sobretodo presentando ponencias, con el objeto de poner en común nuestros conocimientos.



There is nothing new under the sun is an installation comprised of rammed earth and created for the 2012 Venice Biennial. The installation was done within the collateral event, “Traces of Century and Future Steps”, organised and curated by artist Rene Rietmeyer (head of the Global Art Affairs Foundation) and hosted at the Palazzo Bembo just next to the Rialto bridge. The architects Estudio Altiplano, from Bogota, Colombia, were given a space at the fourth floor of a 15th century palace to install the work—a performance piece that consisted of hoisting 3.5 tons of earth into the small chamber then compacting it into a solid rammed earth object. The work engaged many participants, simultaneously a demonstration in the process of fabricating allowing a discussion to emerge about topics of tradition, contemporaneity, territory and the built environment.

The installation formally suggests to the observer how architecture depends on matter in the form of territory, energy and resources. Earth was used to demonstrate how earth is a basic building material used all over the world and that traditional building techinques necessarily depend on oral tradition or transformation of knowledge to evolve and survive. Additionally, the use of earth demonstrated the plastic notion that conjures the act of subtracting compacted earth from the ground to mold it into new shapes without interfering in its material capacities. A continued discussion surrounding the project continues at http://www.rammedweb.com/

Stone Spray Project

Stone Spray Project from Stone Spray on Vimeo.

The Stone Spray Project is a revolutionary robotic construction method which uses soil as the base material and a liquid binder to solidify the soil granules. And uses a jet spray system to deposit the mix of soil and binder, for constructing architectural shapes.

Stone Spray is a project by architects Petr Novikov, Inder Shergill and Anna Kulik. The project is done in the Institute for Advanced Architecture of Catalonia and supervised by Marta Male-Alemany, Jordi Portell and Miquel Lloveras. With professional advisors: Santigo Martin from Vortica and Guillem Camprodon from Fab Lab Bcn.

LEHM 2012

Every four years the Dachverband Lehm e.V., the German Association for Building with Earth, organises an international conference and trade fair on building with earth in a different earth building region in Germany together with an excursion in the region.

We are pleased to announce that the LEHM 2012, the 6th International Conference on Building with Earth, organised by the Dachverband Lehm e.V. will take place from 5 – 7 October 2012 in Weimar, the birthplace of the Bauhaus and a UNESCO World Heritage site.

The LEHM 2012 will encompass the conference with presentations and poster session on 5 – 6 October 2012 and an excursion on 7 October 2012. The conference programme will cover the following topics:

-Earth building norms and regulations
-Current research in earth building
-Training and education in earth building
-Sustainability in earth building
-Contemporary earth building
-Earth building in renovation

The presentations, papers and poster session contributions will be published in the conference proceedings to accompany the conference. The ‘Call for Papers’ opens in April 2011.

La Ermita de Viguera

Photo: Sebastian Schutyser

The ermita of Viguera in La Rioja, Spain, captured here with a pin-hole camera by photographer Sebastian Schutyser, was constructed in the 13th century and contains important mural paintings within. An overhanging rock cliff protects the ancient adobe structure from the elements, which is only accessible by steep 15 minute climb from the nearest road. Schutyser writes of the ermita:

The Spanish word ermita [English: hermitage], has a similar structure and meaning in all languages derived from Latin. It always refers to an uninhabited or isolated place, a location for spiritual retreat. In Romance languages it comes from the Latin word eremus, tracing back to the Greek eremos, which means deserted. In Spain, their use has shifted throughout the centuries, but they have always been isolated sanctuaries or chapels. Hermits inhabited them in seclusion, or in other times, in small groups. Other hermitages were built by pilgrims, who tried to invoke divine protection on their journeys. Finally, some hermitages were erected for pastoral cults, or to house religious brotherhoods. At present many still have the cult of a saint celebrated in them once a year.

The photo is part of a larger photographic collection of ermitas by Schutyser, 575 Romanesque and Pre-Romanesque ermitas total, who is hoping to assemble a book from these photographs.

Read more at: [ BLDGBLOG | UTATA ]

Piscina Municipal de Toro

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

Vier Arquitectos, comprised of Antonio Raya, Christopher Crespo, Santiago Sánchez and Enrique Antelo, are the designers a municipal swimming pool in Toro (Zamora), Spain. A unique quality of the facility is that its exterior walls have been constructed of rammed earth, a traditional technique updated on a contemporary building typology.

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

The building, comprising three volumes, two for dressing and one more for the pool’s, supporting thermal collectors used to heat the pool water and showers, and extra water from the cleaning process, which is stored in a reservoir and reused in irrigating the landscape.

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

Low-energy materials were used throughout and the design for the pool received the first prize for ex eaquo de Edificación Sostenible in Castilla y Leon in its first edition.

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez


Earth is a natural building material that is at once traditional and modern. In recent years it has advanced to become a high-quality material. Its aesthetic qualities and character along with its beneficial effect on the indoor climate and general well-being are widely recognised. Of particular relevance are its environmental properties, for example the incomparably low energy balance of many earth building materials. As an authentic historical building material, earth is also widely used in the conservation and renovation of historic buildings.

Lehmbau-Praxis, written by Ulrich Röhlen and Christof Ziegert, provides an overview of the current state of the art of planning and building earth constructions and is an invaluable reference for architects, engineers, building contractors and tradesmen. Available in English or German.