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Flavour of the future: Earth

March 1, 2010

If you’re not a regular designboom reader, you might have missed their very interesting article series on earth as The Building Material of the Future. Earth represents an excellent alternative to cement whose manufacture releases considerable quantities of CO2; it is a 100% eco-friendly building material in that it is neither manufactured nor transported; and when the building is demolished, the earth returns to the soil and can be recycled indefinitely.

Up the top is an image of a traditional dwelling of the musgum, an ethnic group in the far north of Cameroon creating their homes from compressed sun-dried mud. The shape is very close to the catenary arch (which, as I’m sure you’re aware of, is the ideal mathematical form to bear a maximum weight with minimal material), and at the top of the roof there is a circular opening allowing the air to circulate for a comfortable climate during hot days.

Below is a 6-metre cold storage room for food, built in cob which uses a mixture of clay, sand, straw and water to make the walls. (See more on the making of cob houses here).

It’s funny how something that half the world’s population already know – approximately three billion people on six continents live or work in buildings constructed of earth – makes news.

It’s good though.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. March 2, 2010 9:05 am

    i thought that must have been a church – but it’s just an everyday house?
    anyway… it’s pretty nice how that “decoration” is actually a kind of scaffold as well.
    and it looks a little like the sticks of a stick insect’s cocoon – that’s also nice.

    by the way… you blog is ace!

  2. March 2, 2010 9:25 am

    Thanks mudman!
    Yeah that’s a normal house – they build them up to 9 metres tall, and the extrerior pattern is kind of three-in-one: it functions as scaffolding (apparently they need regular maintenance and that image is actually of a house being repaired…), it contributes to the drainage of rain and best of all, it allows for customization to the taste of the owner/builder. Actually exactly like a cocoon if you think about it.

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