“The world’s most primitive building material – earth – is being used to create some of our most advanced homes”, as noted in this article by the Financial Times.
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.
Rammed earth and stabilized mud block or brick are cheap, easy to make, usually durable materials widely used for building homes and low-level structures, especially in developing countries. Despite their widespread use and long history, the structural properties of these materials are not well understood, so how they could be manufactured to better withstand destructive natural forces, such as earthquakes and weathering, remains a goal. Craig Foster, assistant professor of civil and materials engineering at the University of Illinois at Chicago, hopes a specially tailored set of computer models he is developing may provide the necessary answers. He has just won a three-year, $243,000 National Science Foundation grant to conduct the work.
The winner of the 2010 Metropolis Next Generation Design Competition proposes a radical alternative to the common brick: don’t bake the brick; grow it. In a lab at the American University of Sharjah, in the United Arab Emirates, Ginger Krieg Dosier, an assistant architecture professor, sprouts building blocks from sand, common bacteria, calcium chloride, and urea (yes, the stuff in your pee). The process, known as microbial-induced calcite precipitation, or MICP, uses the microbes on sand to bind the grains together like glue with a chain of chemical reactions. The resulting mass resembles sandstone but, depending on how it’s made, can reproduce the strength of fired-clay brick or even marble. If Dosier’s biomanufactured masonry replaced each new brick on the planet, it would reduce carbon-dioxide emissions by at least 800 million tons a year. “We’re running out of all of our energy sources,” she said in March in a phone interview from the United Arab Emirates. “Four hundred trees are burned to make 25,000 bricks. It’s a consumption issue, and honestly, it’s starting to scare me.” Read more…
Dune Anti-Desertification Architecture investigates adaptive (as opposed to mitigatory) strategies leading to the creation of a climate-conscious
architecture that responds to the extreme environments of tomorrow’s globally-warmed world. Highly speculative yet buildable, the scheme aims to find innovative solutions to combat desertification in the Sahel region of Africa, where sand dunes are currently moving southward at a breathtaking
pace of around 600m per year, ruining the land and making it impossible for the inhabitants of this area to make a living or even stay in their homes. The forced migration of desertification refugees is perhaps more threatening in Nigeria than anywhere else. With a population of over 140 million people, Nigeria is the most populous country in Africa, with serious desertification issues throughout its northern states. It was Nigeria’s former president, Olusegun Obasanjo, who initiated the anti-desertification Green Wall Sahara initiative in 2005. This pan-African scheme seeks to plant a shelterbelt across the continent, from Mauritania in the west to Djibouti in the east, in an attempt to stop the dunes from migrating. The trees are being planted right now.
An architectural response to this campaign would be to go beyond the mere planting of a mitigatory shelterbelt. Habitable spaces can be created in close proximity to the trees. By cutting through the sand dunes and digging down to find water and shade, an artificial oasis can be formed underground.
The sand is solidified using bacillus pasteurii, a microorganism with which professor Jason DeJong has turned sand into sandstone in a mere 1,400 minutes. This technology of organically cementing networks of sand dunes into habitable barriers that stop the desert from spreading has never been proposed before, but on hearing about this project, the professor was enthusiastic: “I do think the application you are talking about is possible”. I’m proposing anti-desertifi cation structures made out of the desert itself, sand-stopping devices made of sand: a poetic proposal that simultaneously works in a sustainable way with local materials and assets.
Special emphasis has been put on finding a solution that is high-tech in result but low-tech in application and construction, with the economical scenario being hard to pin down as this method is virgin territory. It is recognized that poor people are highly vulnerable to the effects of weather, as drought can cause famine while good rains can cause drops in crop prices. The architecture presented here could form a stable base from which to fight back against both effects.
Specialist earth builder, President of the Earth Building Association of Australia, and guest researcher in the Faculty of Engineering and Information Technology, Peter Hickson, has combined one the world’s most ancient building techniques, “cob” construction, with modern engineering methods to develop a model house as part of an effort to createlow cost earthquake resistant housing for millions of people around the world. Hickson’s house introduces many new technologies, but what makes his system unique structurally is the addition of internalbamboo reinforcing and the use of structural diaphragms. Read more about Hickson’s research.
SIREWALL® has updated ancient rammed earth processes with a new global standard for durable, healthy and energy efficient buildings and spaces. SIREWALLs are Stabilized, Insulated, Rammed Earth walls. SIREWALL homes and buildings are constructed with a matrix of local soils strengthened with rebar and a small percentage of cement that surround a core of insulation. A typical SIREWALL is 18? to 24? thick, with 4? of rigid insulation hidden in the centre of the wall. From a dream home or cottage to a winery or cultural centre, SIREWALL builds beautiful walls with timeless distinction.
SIREWALL, the creation of an acclaimed local green building company and recipient of a Governor General’s Medal in Architecture, will be offering introductory courses on Stabilized, Insulated, Rammed Earth (SIRE) this spring and summer.
The Zürich based architecture office INSTANT (Dirk Hebel & Jörg Stollmann with Tobias Klauser) has designed a water bottle that can be recycled and filled with local soil and stacked to form temporary shelter. The concept, called UNITED_BOTTLE can be used by Governments and NGOs to distribute water locally and regionally and be able to upcycle the bottle as a building material in combination with found materials such as sand, earth and natural insulation materials such as animal hair. The simple water bottle would operate as a container for the awareness of the next crisis.
If you live in an earthen structure, maybe you can power this mud clock with it.
In a region where electricity is nonexistent and traditional clay pots are being replaced by aluminum and plastic containers, Mohammed Bah Abba has invented a clay pot in pot refrigeration system that, through evaporative cooling, dramatically extends the shelf-life of food.