Youth Center In Niafourang

The Youth Center In Niafourang, designed by Project Niafourang (three architecture students at the Norwegian School of Science and Technology), was built in Niafourang, a small coastal village in the Casamance region of Senegal. The population of Niafourang is around 300 inhabitants and the village is very poor with a high unemployment rate.

The Youth Center in Niafourang contains a computer room/library and a larger multi-purpose room and hosts programs that create opportunities, jobs and development in the village. An important aspect of the project was to involve the local community in both the building and planning stages, in order to create a sense of ownership and pride in the resulting building.

The walls are built using blocks of compressed sand and a small amount of cement. The blocks were hand-pressed using a local machine with sand shoveled from a nearby ditch. Windows are positioned low on the walls with deep frames, so they can be used to sit in. Steel brackets were custom welded in a nearby village and hold the roof construction. The corrugated aluminum roof juts out beyond the walls to prevent rain from entering the building and creates shady areas to relax.

Underneath the protruding roof, a concrete belt surrounds the building creating a shady platform. The roof extends to include a second floor outside the walls of the multi-purpose room. The second floor is accessible by an outdoor ladder and functions as an extension of the library/computer room or the multi-purpose room. Angled wood planks serve as blinds, preventing both rain and direct sunlight.

[ More at ArchDaily]

Salma Samar Damluji Wins Global Award for Sustainable Architecture

Salma Samar Damluji, an Iraqi architect and researcher educated in the UK, pupil of Hassan Fathy and author of The Architecture of Yemen, who has dedicated her life to the safeguarding and redesign of Earthen Architecture in the fascinating but highly dangerous Yemen is the recipient of the Global Ward for Sustainable Architecture. The Global Award Ceremony will be held at the Cité de l´Architecture in Paris on April 13.

Hilltop House—The Rammed Earth White House

The Hilltop House, a large rammed earth structure built at the address of 1300 Rhode Island Avenue, NE, in Washington, DC in 1773. Before its demolition in 1956, which made way for subsidized housing, it was the oldest extant house in the Washington DC area. The house served as the interim White House for President James Monroe after the British burned the official residence.

An attempt was apparently made to bring raze the building with a wrecking ball after World War I failed after the ball proved ineffective, prompting the owners let the house stand. It was then renovated and it served as an embassy for some time.

The photo is from A quantitative comparison of rammed earth and sun-cured adobe buildings by Richard Hudson Clough and published by The University of New Mexico Press as a Masters Thesis in 1950. Clough went on to become the Dean of Engineering at UNM and wrote the definitive texts on construction contracting.

[ Research Credit: Quentin Wilson ]

Building Local

Building Local is a design-build studio that will explore and discuss the aesthetic, assembly and tectonic qualities of local materials: earth, stone, fique, bamboo and wood, engaging students in a series of workshops that will culminate in the design and construction of an efficient and innovative farmhouse. The studio will take place in Barichara, a colonial town located in the North Western region of Colombia. It is open to graduate and upper-level undergraduate students (juniors and seniors) who are interested in engaging in the explorations of these techniques and their use in contemporary architecture.

The studio is organized by:

Maria Carrizosa, a licensed architect in Colombia and holds an undegraduate degree in architecture from Universidad de Los Andes and a dual Master’s degree in Architecture, and City and Regional Planning from UC Berkeley. Her design practice in Colombia ranges from institutional to housing projects, developing two award-winning projects for a public library and a music school in rural communities. She has been involved in architectural education in both Colombia and the US and continues her participation as a guest juror in the College of Environmental Design and as an Adjunct Professor at the Diablo Valley Community College. Maria is interested in collaborative practices in both architecture and planning to provide communities with the necessary tools to improve and shape the spaces they live in.

Ana Maria Gutierrez, the co-founder of Organizmo, an organization that promotes the principles of permaculture, bio-architecture and the implementation of intuitive technologies. She holds a BFA in Architectural Design from the Parsons School of Design and Master in Interactive Telecomunication ITP from New York University.

Adriana Navarro, who holds a dual Master’s degree in Architecture, and City and Regional Planning from the University of California at Berkeley. Born and raised in Colombia (S.A), she received a BS Arch (Honors) from the University of Virginia in 2004. After working for Rafael Viñoly Architects, and OPX Global in Washington DC, Adriana moved to California to begin her graduate studies in 2007. As a 2010 John K. Branner Fellow, Adriana traveled the world, focusing her research, FAVELA CHIC, on socio-cultural aspects of design, particularly analyzing the role and relationship between architecture, planning and urban informality. Adriana is founder of the blog FAVELissues.

For more information visit

Earth Building: History, Science and Conservation

Earth Building: History, Science and Conservation by Paul Jaquin, covers various types of earth construction including adobe, cob and rammed earth. It presents a wide-ranging review of the history of earth building, tracing the development of earthen construction techniques from antiquity to the present day, and showing the development of the techniques with both time and geography. The behaviour of earth building materials is explained using, for the first time, principles from soil mechanics. There is a detailed discussion of strategies for the analysis and conservation of earth buildings to enable engineers, conservation professionals and architects to understand and preserve earth buildings better in the future. Richly illustrated with photographs and diagrams, this book provides an invaluable tool for the conservation of earth buildings.

Paul Jaquin is the author of the website, Historic Rammed Earth, which grew out of his PhD research at the University of Durham.

Sra Pou Vocational School

The Sra Pou Vocational School, located in Cambodia and designed by the Finnish architecture firm, Rudanko + Kankkunen, utilizes sun dried mud bricks made from the local red earth. Bricks were laid with a hole pattern in the walls to pull in more daylight as well as encourage natural ventilation through the space. Bright and colorful handmade shutters can be opened or closed to block out the sun, but also make the center cheery and welcoming. A large covered porch creates an outdoor community room, while the interior holds workshops, storage space and bathrooms.

The purpose of the vocational training centre is to encourage and teach poor families to earn their own living. The Sra Pou community is one of the unprivileged communities in Cambodia, who have been evicted from their homes in the city to the surrounding countryside. They lack basic infrastructure, decent built environment and secure income. The new vocational school provides professional training and helps the people to start sustainable businesses together. It is also a place for public gathering and democratic decision-making for the whole community.

Color is used on doors and shutters to give the building a strong presence by creating a rhythm across its facade. In the Vocational School these woven pieces also paint the light in various colors as it enters the workshop and classroom.

Read more at [ archidose | inhabit | archdaily | dezeen ]

Habitat Cabo Delgado

Habitat Cabo Delgado, constructed in Mozambique by Ziegert | Roswag | Seiler Architekten Ingenieure and the Aga Khan Foundation, was founded for the purpose of create more permanent housing solutions using local, natural building materials. Local construction methods were developed and improved upon in ways tailored to local craftsmens’ abilities; thus supporting the local construction culture and reinforcing village identity.

In the first phase of the project, eleven multipurpose learning centres were built to showcase the new construction methods. To facilitate the implementation and dissemination of these techniques, a total of forty local apprentices were trained in ecological building methods – skills they could later use to support themselves financially. As models of low-cost, high-quality, sustainable construction, the learning centres were designed to inspire others to imitate the new style.

The traditional “wattle and daub” technique has been replaced with an earth-block construction method. The new buildings’ rammed-earth and earth-block foundations are stabilised with 10% cement and covered with a moisture barrier to protect them from rain and rising damp. The earth blocks used to construct the walls are stabilised through the addition of straw.

An easy-to-produce triple-layered bamboo beam has been developed for use in roof constructions; the beam is used for nearly all parts of the roof such as ring beams, purlins and triangle trusses. The prefabricated trusses have a span of 6m, enabling the construction of open-plan multipurpose buildings. The bamboo is treated with borax, a natural salt, in order to prevent damage by termites or other insects. Several different traditional palm-leaf roofing techniques are used to construct the roofs. Because locally-available resources like earth, bamboo and leaves are used as building materials, each school displays the colours of its region.

The 3rd Earth Building UK (EBUK) Conference

EBUK, the Earth Building UK Conference, will be held January 13th 2012 with the focus on the use of earth and clay plasters.

The use of earth and clay plasters has increased in recent years, with interest groups concerned with the conservation of historic buildings, ecologically sensitive new construction, alongside a growing interest from industry in innovative materials.

Earth and clay plasters and mortars, along with green bricks plasters and mortars are currently the most product oriented areas of the earth building family. Although many of the commercial products in this field are imported from Europe, there are a growing number of product suppliers and manufacturers in the UK. The European-wide acceptance of training standards for earth plaster which was achieved in 2011 mean there is opportunity now for a growth in the sector.

The third EBUK conference explores these issues, from user, developer and supplier. Space will be available for display of materials and products.
Conference Location: The Ron Cooke Hub at the University of York, Heslington, York. YO10 5GE.

Conference fee: The conference fee for EBUK members is £42.00. This includes refreshments and lunch. If you are not already an EBUK member the conference fee is £63.00 (this includes a full year’s membership of EBUK). For more information visit:


FRANÇOIS COINTERAUX (1740-1830), PIONEER OF MODERN EARTHEN ARCHITECTURE: Theory, Teaching and Dissemination of a Vernacular Technique, International Conference, Lyons, 10-12 May 2012

Organized by the Laboratoire de Recherche Historique Rhône-Alpes (LARHRA, UMR-CNRS 5190) and the Institut National d’Histoire de l’Art

From 1785 onwards, the builder and master mason François Cointeraux actively promoted a construction technique of vernacular origin, known as pisé de terre (or ‘rammed earth’), which was at that time confined to southeast France. His cahiers or fascicules from the Ecole d’architecture rurale (School of Rural Architecture), published in Paris in 1790-91, were rapidly translated into seven languages (German, Russian, Danish, English, Finnish, Italian and Portuguese). They attracted the attention of major architects such as Henry Holland (1745-1806) in England, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) in America, David Gilly (1748-1808) in Germany and Nicolaï L’vov (1751-1803) in Russia, founder of a flourishing school of earthen architecture in Tiukhili near Moscow, based on Cointeraux’s school of the Colisée in Paris. Through his publications, Cointeraux generated an almost universal interest for this material, as cheap as it was abundant, and encouraged its adaptation to rural or residential architecture.

This success can largely be explained by a desire to revive rural architecture, which was in perfect harmony with both the physiocrats’ line of thought and the actions of agricultural societies. However, Cointeraux never managed to popularise its use widely and lastingly in France. His numerous publications did not achieve their expected uptake with the institutions concerned. He is nonetheless representative of a culture of invention and innovation, highly characteristic of the first industrial revolution and the birth of modern architecture. The aim of the conference is to present a synthesis of the extensive research carried out on François Cointeraux over the course of the last twenty years and to re-situate his work in the wider context of the evolution of ideas and techniques.

Laurent Baridon, Université Lyon II, LARHRA (UMR 5190), Louis Cellauro, LARHRA, Jean-Philippe Garric, INHA / AUSSER, Gilbert Richaud, LARHRA Advisory board: Hubert Guillaud, Énsa de Grenoble / CRA-Terre, Miles Lewis, Faculty of Architecture, Melbourne University, Claude Mignot, Paris-IV / Centre André Chastel, Liliane Pérez-Hilaire, Centre d’Histoire des Techniques et de l’Environnement du CNAM, Antoine Picon, Harvard School of Design, LATTS

Submission procedures
Proposals (title, abstract of maximum one page, short CV) should be sent to the organizers at the following address: Or: Laurent Baridon, LARHRA, Institut des Sciences de l’Homme, 14 avenue Berthelot, F-69363 Lyon Cedex 07, France

The deadline for submissions is July 31, 2011. Results of the selection will be communicated to the authors one month later. The proceedings of the conference will be published in 2013.