Is it innovation to want to use a millennia-old building technique? Apparently. It is also puzzling because in this day of “everything causes Global Warming” using more traditional/less-energy-intensive materials should be all the rage.
People think that buildings made of mud can’t last. But at least one city built of rammed earth has lasted for 500 years. Early sections of the Great Wall of China are older than that. How many buildings built in the last century will be here at the end of this century, or the end of the next?
This TED Talk is by Anna Heringer, an architect trying to change that. OK, so it is 13 minutes long. Get a cup of coffee; you might learn something. (It will only hurt for a minute.) Her talk is in English, but her accent is thick. Turn on the English subtitles if you have problems.
You would think that the Left would be all over this, because the material that is being used, where rammed earth could work, is concrete. Portland cement is a fairly energy intensive product. (For those who don’t know, it is the key ingredient in concrete.) And while concrete is required for some stuff, it is clearly not required for everything. Oh, and the thickness of the walls aids in insulating the structure. The walls are usually much thicker than you imagine. But can you imagine the chaos that would ensue if people were empowered to build their own homes, or out buildings?
Of course governments won’t let you build out of rammed earth, because their engineers don’t understand anything more exotic than cinder-block construction. And at least one jurisdiction had problems wrapping their mind around surface-bonding concrete and cinder-blocks because all they had ever seen was lines of mortar. But they only understand what they saw yesterday, and you want them to think new thoughts, and revisit their engineering texts, or dig out their ancient copy of the building codes, and can’t you just be like everyone else? What’s so wrong with 2 X 4 stick construction anyway?