Martin Rauch Builds His Own Home

Notable rammed earth building Martin Rauch, with the assistance of architect Roger Boltshauser recently completed his own rammed earth home in Schlins, Austria. The house which was finished 2008 reacts in its position and in its character directly to the topographic gradient of the slim plot and its genuine landscape context: A monolithic structure becomes a sculptural bloc, an abstract and artificial nature pressed upward from the underlying earth.

University of Bath Research Studentships in Earth Architecture

The University of Bath Department BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials in the Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering is offering Research Studentships that include:

Humidity buffering using earth masonry: During experimental studies, earth masonry has been shown to buffer humidity in buildings by reducing peaks experienced under normal usage (e.g. in shower rooms). This has potential to improve occupant health and reduce ventilation (and therefore energy demand) in buildings but the effect has not been fully qualified. This project aims to quantify how earth masonry materials can buffer humidity in buildings. Supervisor Dr Andrew Heath

Grouting mix design for historic mud brick masonry: Established grouting methods are available for stone and brick masonry set in lime mortar. However there is at present little work on unfired and low-fired brick masonry set in predominantly mud mortar with rubble cores. This type of masonry constitutes a large proportion of historic buildings worldwide.The efficacy of grouting historic masonry to reinstate integrity or enhance structural capacity, especially against lateral loading, has been proved by various researchers. The project will research ad hoc grouting mixes for traditional mud set masonry by investigating lime and soil mixes. Experimental work will be carried out by means of test walls. Non destructive testing techniques will be also used in collaboration with a well established testing house and on site trials will be conducted in the latter stage of the study. Supervisors Dr Dina D’Ayala and Dr Enrico Fodde.

Projects to start: October 2009

The studentships:
The studentships cover home/EU tuition fees, a standard stipend (currently £12,940 (tax free) per annum), and research expenses. In addition, departmental teaching assistantships, up to a value of £1500 p.a. are also available. Overseas students are eligible to apply, but will be expected to pay the difference between home/EU and overseas fees (currently around £8,000 p.a.) and have an English Language Qualification, IELTS of not less than 7 or its equivalent.

The successful candidate will join the BRE Centre for Innovative Construction Materials in the Faculty of Engineering & Design. In the recent Research Assessment Exercise 70% of staff at the University of Bath’s Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering were graded as internationally leading or internationally significant in their field. This translates as 6th place nationally in the Built Environment Unit of Assessment, and maintains the equivalent of our top 5 rating achieved in the 2001 RAE.

The University of Bath is located within the UNESCO World Heritage City of Bath.

Candidates should hold a first or upper second class honours degree in Civil Engineering, Materials Science or a related subject.

For further information please contact: Prof. Pete Walker, Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering, University of Bath, Claverton Campus, Bath BA2 7AY; Email:; Tel: 01225 386646.

Applications should be submitted by post or on-line. For further information on the application process please contact Emma Greeley (Email:; Tel: 01225 386908) or visit the university’s Graduate Office web pages:

The deadline for receipt of applications is the 31st of March 2009.

The Earthbuilder

The Earthbuilder clasps a clump of clay-rich earth, with hands work-hardened,
earth mixed with chaff and chopped straw, all just dampened,
then moulds the soil that one hand holds, confidently shaping a rustic ball.

The Earthbuilder looks into the ball as if to watch futures revealed,
to witness the world to be rebuilt, an earth to be healed.
There are familiar spirits here, we hear their call.

This cob is placed on the foundation, on those good shoes.
At this signal many more hands join in, each muddy handful pressed onto growing rows.
A community evolves and a home begins to rise this way.

It is a simple and ancient thing, a child’s game at times, to build with earth this way,
being both right work and equally right play.
The goal is as serious as dirt, as wise as clay.

Walls moulded by a gathered strangers to hold a family and their friends.
If newly improvised rituals of earthbuilding gain good ends,
the home will be a fertile soil to enfold and nurture the lives of those within.

With many hands sculpting the mass, the house grows from of the land.
With good shoes and a good hat, a home will stand.
Work goes on as hours pass, and new days begin.

A community evolves as a human home rises, ex humus, out of the soil:
a home evolves as a human community rises, ex humus, out of the soil,
Humans grow from the clay, ex humus, into the light of a new day.

Poem ©Chris Green, Feb. 2009

Monier Residence

The Monier residence is a wood and rammed earth structure utilizes a variety of sustainable systems to produce its own energy and regulate its climate. The building is situated on a 4-acre site in Perth, West Australia and comprises 3 bedrooms and 2,500 square feet. Ackert Architecture designed the award winning structure “as a demonstration project to show how alternative energy and passive systems could be integrated to create a self sufficient home.”

Rammed Earth Bench

To introduce a hands-on understanding of materials, 12 advanced design students designed and constructed a rammed-earth bench in the Goldsmith Hall Courtyard. The rammed-earth investigation was one of three class investigations that explored the nature of materials in response to particular sites.