Saddam Hussein: 1937-2006

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Saddam Hussein was born in a mud brick house to a family of sheep-herders in Tikrit, Iraq on April 28, 1937. He grew up in the town of Al Dawr, a mud brick town on the banks of the Tigris River.

Iraq is home to some of the most enduring wonders built in mud from the ancient world include the Ziggurat at Ur and the Ctesiphon Arch, the largest single-span vault of un-reinforced mud brick in the world. Adobe dwellings in Iraq date back as far as 8000 b.c. and the earliest known form molded adobe blocks are also in Iraq (5600 b.c).

The ruins of the ancient city of Babylon are also found in Iraq. Herodotus, the ancient Greek scholar, was so wowed that he wrote Babylon “surpasses in splendor any city in the known world.” Most of the splendor was made from mud and virtually all buildings in Babylon are constructed in mud brick. It was been an old Mesopotamian custom to impress the bricks, mainly those destined for public buildings, with the king’s seal.

Saddam Hussein wanted to be seen as the modern version of Nebuchadrezzar the Great, who ruled Bablyon in the 6th Century B.C.E. and is famous for bringing the city back to power and prosperity after a century of foreign rule by the Assyrian Empire. To make the connection clear, Saddam had a historically incorrect version of a 6th Century temple built atop the ruins of Nebuchadnezzar’s old temple. Walls more than 12 meters high and stamped with Saddam’s name replaced the stumpy mounds of biblical-age mud. Just as the ancient temple’s bricks bore the old king’s name, the new bricks said, “This was built by Saddam Hussein, son of Nebuchadnezzar, to glorify Iraq.” Following this, Saddam built a copy of a Sumerian ziggurat built on the mud brick ruins of the city. Modern archeologists frowned heavily upon him for building on top of old ruins.

Saddam Hussien was executed today, December 30, 2006 for crimes against humanity.

Red Hill Residence

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The Red Hill Residence designed by CHRISTOPHERCHRIS PTY LTD ARCHITECTURE was constructed in Mornington Peninsula, Australia. More images of the project can be found at Arkinetia where they write, the house is “constructed primarily from locally sourced rammed earth and ship lapped cedar panelling, the house is sited across the ridge of the property. The elemental form of the building is enhanced by the contrasting and intersecting selection of material, textures and colours, threaded together by the linear rammed earth wall.”

2007 International Symposium on Earthen Structures

The 2007 International Symposium on Earthen Structures will take place August 22-24, 2007 in Bangalore, India. The conference is jointly organized by the Department of Civil Engineering and Center for Sustainable Technologies at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore, India, the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering at the University of Bath, U.K. and the Ecole Nationale des Travaux Publics de L’Etate, Lyon, France. Form more information, download the conference brief.

Terra 2008

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Terra 2008, the 10th International Conference on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architectural Heritage, will take place in Bamako, Mali from February 1-5, 2008. This is the 10th conference organized by the earthen architecture community under the aegis of ICOMOS since 1972, and the first to be held in Africa. The conference is expected to draw up to 300 specialists in the fields of conservation, anthropology, archaeology, architecture and engineering, scientific research, site management, and sustainable development of earthen architectural heritage. Organized by The Getty Conservation Institute and the Ministry of Culture of Mali in collaboration with Africa 2009 | CRATerre | ICOMOS South Africa | ICCROM | World Heritage Centre under the aegis of ICOMOS International Scientific Committee for Earthen Architectural Heritage

Download the conference announcement (pdf)

Handmade School

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Architects Anna Heringer and Eike Roswag from Linz and Berlin have realized a beautiful school that is a recipient of The Architectural Review Awards for Emerging Architecture.

Refining the local technique of using very wet loam to build walls, the school has a brick foundation, a damp proof course, and walls made of a mixture of loam and straw, the latter acting as a form of reinforcement. The loam and straw are combined by getting cows and water buffalo to tread them in. The ‘Wellerbau’ technique employed here involves building a 700mm high wall layer, leaving it to dry for two days, and trimming off with a spade. A further drying period is followed by the addition of the next layer.

[ The Architectural Review | Handmade School Web Site ]