Revealing the Potential of Compressed Earth Blocks

Revealing the Potential of Compressed Earth Blocks—A Study in the Materiality of Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB): Lightness, Tactility, and Formability, by Egyptian architect Omar Rabie, documents explorations of the potential of CEB while studying at MIT, The Architectural Association and Auroville.

In these two experimental mock-ups, Rabie explored the different possibilities of bondings using one block—specifically how the shape of the single block influences the block bonding patterns in a stack bond and running bond.

This portion of a wall was built of specially formed interlocking blocks to increase friction to test how high friction masonry wall will highly resist lateral loads in comparison to walls constructed with standard blocks. In this case, the blocks are interlocked in the long direction of the wall. This experiment proved that it is possible to freely form more complex CEBs and build walls with an unusual bonds, like this strong zigzag bond.

[ Download Rabie’s entire report here. ]

The Mountain

The Mountain, a film written by Fathy Ghanem, tells the story of building the village of New Gourna by architect Hassan Fathy. Filmed in the village of New Gourna itself in 1965, it is incredibly important from an architectural perspective, however, Hassan Fathy never mentioned the film in any of his writings or speeches. More information at

Small Scale Big Change

The role of the global architect in society is changing. Instead of waiting for commissions to come their way, architects are initiating and developing practical solutions in response to dramatically changing living conditions in many parts of the world today. Small Scale, Big Change
focuses on a central chapter of this shift, presenting recently built or under-construction works, many of which are constructed of earth, in underserved communities around the globe by these 11 architects and firms: Elemental (Chilean); Anna Heringer (Austrian); Diebedo Francis Kere (Burkinabe); Hashim Sarkis A.L.U.D. (Lebanese); Jorge Mario Jauregui (Brazilian); Frederic Druot, Anne Lacaton & Jean Philippe Vassal (French); Michael Maltzan Architecture (American); Noero Wolff Architects (South African); Rural Studio (American); Estudio Teddy Cruz (American, born Guatemala); and Urban Think Tank (American/Austrian/Venezuelan).

Without sacrificing concern for aesthetics, these architects have developed projects that reveal a post-utopian specificity of place; their architectural solutions emerge from close collaboration with future users and sustained research into local conditions. The projects–which include schools, parks, housing and infrastructural interventions–reveal an exciting change in the longstanding dialogue between architecture and society, as the architect’s roles, methods, approaches and responsibilities are dramatically reevaluated. They also offer an expanded definition of sustainability that moves beyond experimentation with new materials and technologies to encompass larger concepts of social and economic sustainability. Small Scale, Big Change examines the evolving standards of responsibility and participation in architecture and the ways in which architects can engage critically with larger social, economic and political issues currently facing communities around the world.

Piscina Municipal de Toro

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

Vier Arquitectos, comprised of Antonio Raya, Christopher Crespo, Santiago Sánchez and Enrique Antelo, are the designers a municipal swimming pool in Toro (Zamora), Spain. A unique quality of the facility is that its exterior walls have been constructed of rammed earth, a traditional technique updated on a contemporary building typology.

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

The building, comprising three volumes, two for dressing and one more for the pool’s, supporting thermal collectors used to heat the pool water and showers, and extra water from the cleaning process, which is stored in a reservoir and reused in irrigating the landscape.

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

Low-energy materials were used throughout and the design for the pool received the first prize for ex eaquo de Edificación Sostenible in Castilla y Leon in its first edition.

Photo: Héctor Santos-Díez

Arquitectura Con Tierra en Uruguay

Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay is a book that offers a tour of fifteen case studies of buildings constructed with earth in Montevideo, Canelones, Maldonado, Rocha and Salto, Uruguay. One of the most significant characteristics of this type of construction technology in Uruguay is the amount of new work, which makes a difference to other countries in the region. This publication presents the works of several architects and builders from 1996 to 2009 in a compilation of 250 photographs and charts.

Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay makes clear the living traditions of ancient technologies that are increasingly valued. This book is available in Uruguay in the Faculty of Architecture Library (Bulevar Artigas 1031, Montevideo) and in the Library of the Society of Architects of Uruguay (Gonzalo Ramírez 2030, Montevideo). It can be purchased elsewhere through

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Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay es un libro que propone una recorrida por quince casos de construcciones con tierra en los departamentos de Montevideo, Canelones, Maldonado, Rocha y Salto. Una de las características más significativas de este tipo de tecnología constructiva en Uruguay es la cantidad de obra nueva que marca la diferencia con respecto a otros países de la región. En esta publicación se recopilan las obras de varios arquitectos y constructores desde 1996 a 2009 a través de 250 fotografías y gráficos elaborados especialmente.

Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay da cuenta de la siempre viva actualidad de técnicas milenarias que vuelven a cobrar valor. Este libro se puede adquirir en Uruguay en la Librería de Facultad de Arquitectura (Bulevar Artigas 1031, Montevideo) y en la Librería de la Sociedad de Arquitectos del Uruguay (Gonzalo Ramírez 2030, Montevideo). Puede ser adquirido desde el exterior a través del sitio

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Arquitectura con tierra en Uruguay – Autor: Alejandro Ferreiro – 120 páginas – 17 x 24 cm – ISBN 978-9974-98-153-9. Alejandro Ferreiro es arquitecto egresado de la Facultad de Arquitectura (UdelaR) en 2005. Se desempeña como docente de la cátedra de Arquitectura y Tecnología y ha participado como capacitador a partir de 2002 en distintas actividades y jornadas universitarias de transferencia tecnológica. Desde el año 2008 comienza a trabajar como profesional liberal en proyectos de arquitectura con tierra y materiales naturales.


Brittlebush is an experimental Desert Dwelling designed by Simón de Agüero, a recent graduate of the Frank Lloyd Wright School of Architecture in Taliesin, Arizona. The open-air living space incorporates tensile fabric structures into its design to shelter occupants from the sun. A fireplace provides winter heating.

The majority of the material used for Brittlebush were recovered or found on site: 90% of the steel was salvaged from the school scrap yard, all of the wood used for the formwork was waste from a local renovation project, and the earth used for the walls was from on-site.

Read more at [ designboom | boiteaoutils | treehugger ]