Tarrawarra Museum of Art

Intended to emerge powerfully from the landscape this ultra modern gallery displays the talents of Melbourne architect Allan Powell. Almost like an earthworks sculpture that can be read as an artefact, the TarraWarra Musem of Art in Yarra Glen is a monument to modernism. Allan Powell has constructed a simple shape with the effect of a half built or buried building, which confounds the eye and engages the senses. The stunning tan and clay coloured structure rises out of the green vines of the Yarra Valley creating an unexpected vision in the valley. Sensually curved around the site, the building is primarily of dressed stone and rendered walls, coloured rendered concrete walls, and rammed earth walls, and the architect has achieved the feeling that ‘ this building is of the earth’. Visitors to this new gallery are convinced that the complex is of handcrafted natural materials and that each of the columns is different. TarraWarra Museum of Art has been entered into Institutional new category of the architecture awards. [ Download PDF ]

Library and Archive at Douai Abbey

Architect David Richmond & Partners and structural engineer Price & Myers are creating a rammed earth wall using local soil for a new library and archive at Douai Abbey. The proposed 300mm-thick, 2.7m-tall earth walls, which will be built on a 100mm-tall concrete plinth, offer the right amount of thermal mass to ensure a stable internal temperature. When built, it will be the only library in the UK to use rammed earth technology. It is also the first time that either the architect or the structural engineer have worked with rammed earth.

Ontario Rammed Earth House

The unusual “Mud House” house was constructed in King City, Ontario in 1937 by Blair Burrows, a remarkable woman architect from Toronto, using only local materials and without cutting down any trees. She built the house entirely by hand, of pisé de terre (rammed earth). Original features include the two-foot thick, rot-free walls and a monumental hearth.

Nader Khalili Dies at 72

Nader Khalili

Superadobe Structure

Iranian-born architect and author, Nader Khalili, passed away at the age of 72 on Wednesday, March 5th, 2008. Khalili was known for his invention of an Earthbag Construction technique called Super Adobe, which use sand bags, mud and barbed wire to build emergency shelters in areas affected by natural and man-made disasters. His books, Ceramic Houses and Earth Architecture: How to Build Your Own and Racing Alone document his life of searching for a method to fire mud houses and turn them to stone by firing and glazing an entire building after it is constructed from clay-earth on site. He is the founder of The California Institute of Earth Art and Architecture, whose scope spans technical innovations published by NASA for lunar base construction, to design and development of housing for the world’s homeless for the United Nations.

Chapel of Reconciliation

Built by architects Peter Sassenroth und Rudolf Reitermann in 1999, this small chapel made of rammed earth replaces the former Church of Reconciliation, a historicist church built in 1894 which happened to be situated on the death strip when the Berlin wall was erected in 1961. The old church stood there vacant and isolated, abused as a guarding tower for East German border patrol, until it was finally blown up by East Germany in 1987 – just two years before the wall eventually was torn down itself. the community of the former church decided it wanted to have its church back. The completed chapel is enveloped by a wall made of rammed earth, composed out of clay and smaller pieces of bricks of the exploded church. For more information visit the Chapel of Reconciliation home page.

Earth Architecture – The Book

Earth Architecture began February 22, 2003 as a way to organize online research on earthen architecture and now, after almost 5 years of blogging on earth architecture, a book on the subject that will be published by Princeton Architectural Press in the Fall of 2008. The book will offer a history of earthen architecture, particularly a modern history of earthen architecture which touches on the efforts of Cointeraux, Gaudí, Schindler, Wright, Le Corbusier, Loos, Fathy, and many more of your favorite architects of the modern era. The book also discusses Rammed Earth, Mud Brick, Compressed Earth Block and many of the several earth building technologies and how they have evolved to meet the demands of contemporary society.

The book will also feature 40 cutting edge projects designed by architects and constructed of earth from the past 35 years, including work by many well known architects such as Rick Joy, Mauricio Rocha, Rural Studio, Glenn Murcutt, Arup Associates, Mathias Klotz, Predock_Frane Architects, Cutler Anderson Architects, Reitermann and Sassenroth, Heikkinen – Komonen Architects and Yung Ho Chang, to name a few, as well as important works by lesser well known architects who have produced critical works of contemporary architecture.

This is a very exciting moment in the history of this blog. It coincides with International Listings ranking Earth Architecture among the top 100 Architecture Blogs. It is an honor to be on the list with some really great blogs. In fact, I have to give props to Geoff for the idea for announcing the impending publication. If you’d like to know more about the book or would like to be reminded when the it is released, please email me, and thanks for reading about the most widely used building material on the planet.

Laurie Baker, 1917-2007


Lawrence Wilfred “Laurie” Baker (March 2, 1917 – April 1, 2007) was an award-winning English architect, renowned for his initiatives in low-cost housing by using traditional techniques, materials and crafts such as mud and thatch. He went to India in 1945 in part as a missionary and since then lived and worked in India for over 50 years. He obtained Indian citizenship in 1989 and resided in Thiruvananthapuram (Trivandrum), Kerala. In 1990, the Government of India awarded him with the Padma Shri, the nation’s fourth highest civilian award, in recognition of his meritorious service in the field of architecture.

“You can’t get more sustainable or renewable a resource than mud, and Baker is its champion. Approximately 58 percent of all buildings in India today are made of mud brick, some as many as 50 to 100 years old. Mud is gathered either at the construction site or very nearby, formed into bricks and dried in the sun. It is readily available and can be made by people with limited initial training—all resulting in projects that can be built at a fraction of the cost of those using concrete and steel. Baker is especially fond of mud’s total recycle-ability: simply add water and reuse it.”
– Farewell Laurie Baker

Links: Of Mud and Men: Architecture as a Political Act | Of Architectural Truths and Lies | Laurie Baker’s Creative Journey | Mud: Laurie Baker