When an earthquake measuring 8.1 on the Richter Scale rocked the Andean region for over a minute in June, 2001, the southern Peruvian mountain town of Moquegua was literally shaken to pieces. But amid the rubble, three traditional adobe houses were left intact.
Regarded by architects as the cream of Chinese traditional residential architecture, tulou, or earth buildings, first appeared about 1,200 years ago, and were mostly completed in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. They were built and inhabited by the Hakka people – a group belonging to the Han family who can trace their ancestors back more than 1,500 years to central and north China. During the hundreds of years of migration, the Hakka people tried to maintain their own culture and way of life, keeping their own unique dialect, custom and cuisine. They built the earth complexes to guard against invasion from local bandits and to protect their children from the influence of local communities. All the families of a Hakka clan lived together in an enclosed rammed earth building.
“Invisible Operations”, by Karen McCoy is comprised of twenty-eight rammed earth geometric solids ranging in size from 1′ x 1′ x 1′ blocks to a 6.5′ x 2′ x 6′ wall and are situated within a grid at the South Carolina Botanical Gardens.
Graeme North looks at the history and future of earth-building in New Zealand.
Building with Earth in Scotland by Becky Little and Tom Morton discusses techniques, history, and contains precedents of contemporary architecture.