Handmade Houses & Other Buildings: The World of Vernacular Architecture

Vernacular architecture, by its very nature, is built from local materials that are readily to hand and is thus defined by the geology and ecology of the region and by local climatic conditions. Constructed by the community using traditional tools, these structures are highly practical, energy-efficient, and blend with the landscape. They carry many of the attributes that we are now seeking in green architecture as we struggle to adapt our built environment to the demands and concerns of the climate-change era. Handmade Houses & Other Buildings: The World of Vernacular Architecture looks at everyday structures all over the world, from whatever wood, grass, earth or stone that was to hand, in ways that offered practical solutions to the challenges of climate or terrain. Based on immemorial principles, but highly relevant to our newly found environmental concerns, these buildings show the simple and satisfying ways in which humans have worked out how to live and live well, in harmony with their surroundings.

Bio-Engineered Sand Brick

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…

Trois Séminaires Thématiques Autour de l’Architecture de Terre

Grands Ateliers, Villefontaine, Isère: 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22 mai 2010. Trois séminaires thématiques autour de l’architecture de terre organisés par Le laboratoire CRAterre – ENSAG Dans le cadre du 8e festival des architectures de terre “Grains d’Isère 2010” et de la Chaire Unesco Architectures de terre, cultures constructives et développement durable.

1- Sciences de la matière et du matériau (17 et 18 mai 2010)
* Comportement du matériau terre saturé d’eau à l’état de pâte (17 mai 2010)
* Comportement thermique et hygrométrique du matériau et des constructions en terre (18 mai 2010)
2- Patrimoine et développement local – Défis et opportunités de la conservation du patrimoine pour le développement (19 et 20 mai 2010)
3- Cultures constructives locales et amélioration de l’habitat (21 et 22 mai 2010)

Ces 3 séminaires auront lieu aux Grands Ateliers à Villefontaine (www.lesgrandsateliers.fr) et s’inscrivent dans la perspective de la concrétisation de la “Cité de la Construction Durable”. Ils s’articulent autour de présentations, suivies de discussions et de travaux de synthèse. Présentations, programmes détaillés et fiche d’inscription ci-joints. informations : craterre@grenoble.archi.fr / 04 76 69 83 35

9th International Earth Architecture Photography Competition

The Centro di Documentazione sulle Case di Terra is hosting the 9th International Earth Architecture Photography Competition with the theme “Le case di terra paesaggio di architettura”.

Entry deadline: 30/06/2010
Judges meeting: 07/08/2010
Announcement of results: 31/08/2010 on the Internet page: www.casediterra.it
Works exhibition: dal/from 18/09/2010 al/to 30/09/2010 presso il / in the CED Terra Casalincontrada
Opening: 18/09/2010
Prize-giving: 18/09/2010

President of jury:
Mr Maurizio Morandi – University of Firenze

Mrs Concetta Di Luzio – Mayor of Casalincontrada
Mrs Stefania Giardinelli – Terrae onlus Association
Mrs Gaia Bollini – Città della terra cruda National Association
Mr Gianni Ortolano – Member of Fotoclub Chieti

Mr Gabriele Esposito – Associazione Terrae onlus
Mrs Caterina Buccione – Associazione Terrae onlus

1° Classificato/1st prize winner: Euro 515,00
2° Classificato/2nd prize winner: Euro 260,00
3° Classificato/3rd prize winner: Euro 130,00
To the five outstanding photographs: a book on earthen architecture

– To the best photograph on new earthen architectural structures;
– To the best photograph on earthen architectural structures in the Abruzzo Region;
– To the best photo of earthen architecture in Italy;
– To the best photo of earthen architecture in the world;
– Special prizes for schools.

The 9th International Photo Competition on “Earthen architectures: landscapes of architectures” is an initiative of the Municipality of Casalincontrada, in the Italian province of Chieti and the Documentation Centre on Earth Architectures, Terrae onlus Association The “rediscovery” of the knowledge linked to earthen architecture recomposed in images, like tiles of a mosaic made of people, things, material and places. Images that could be interpreted as “surviving structures” or “new scenarios”, as well as architectures of the territory, memories and situations.

For more information visit the competition website.

Abey Smallcombe

Cob Visitor Facility, Eden Project

Abey Smallcombe is a collaboration between artists Jackie Abey and Jill Smallcombe. Their craft is working with cob, earth plasters and other natural beautiful, sustainable materials. They have successfully carried out a number of large and smaller scale commissions for, the Eden Project, Somerset College of Arts and Technology, The Devon Guild of Craftsmen, Met Office, National Trust, Sustrans Cycle Paths. They have also exhibited nationally, taught all age groups, lectured internationally and researched earth structures in Europe, USA, India, Africa and Australia.

Weddle Gilmore Rammed Earth

Weddle Gilmore Black Rock Studio has developed a specialty in trailheads over its 10 years in business. The architecture firm has designed this building type for several municipalities near its Scottsdale, Arizona, base, and it has realized three for Scottsdale’s McDowell Sonoran Preserve alone.

The Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Scottsdale, Arizona

The Gateway was designed to celebrate the entry and passage into the 36,400 acre McDowell Sonoran Preserve while minimizing the impact on the native desert. The Gateway is the point of access to over 45 miles of trails within the McDowell Sonoran Preserve for hiking, bicycling, and equestrian enjoyment. The project site design achieved the complete preservation of the existing network of arroyos and minimized earthwork alterations of the natural habitat. The building walls are made of rammed earth, recalling a tradition of indigenous desert building while meeting all of the performance requirements of modern use. The roof is covered in native desert cobble so that it blends into the desert when observed from the mountain trails to the east. The Gateway incorporates numerous strategies for resource conservation. An 18 KW solar system generates as much solar electricity as the Gateway consumes to realize a ‘net zero’ of energy consumption. Up to 60,000 gallons of rainwater is harvested through roof collection and storage in an underground cistern–providing 100% of the water needed for landscape irrigation.

Lost Dog Wash Trailhead, Scottsdale, Arizona

On the perimeter of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, the Lost Dog Wash Trailhead is an example of commitment to environment through its preservation of native habitat, choice of sustainable building materials, and natural resource conservation. The structures are nested into the landscape and incorporate materials that blend with the natural desert environment. The rammed earth walls of the structures utilize earth material that was excavated during foundation construction. The trailhead restrooms incorporate a composting system which minimizes water consumption and saves approximately 200,000 gallons of water annually over a conventional system.

Gray water and rainwater harvesting provides 75,000 gallons of water a year for landscape irrigation. Solar power is provided to the trailhead facilities by a roof integrated 3,000 watt solar electric array that allows the trailhead to be completely self-sufficient and independent of the electric grid.