Earthen construction and soil-based construction materials are widely used worldwide. Earthen construction encapsulates many different and varied forms of techniques and applications. As a vernacular solution, it has developed over many thousands of years in all inhabited continents of the world. In many rural regions of Africa, Asia and South America, earthen construction remains the predominant building solution. Recently their popularity has increased as they offer the potential for a low carbon footprint and sustainability benefits through recycling and as an alternative to high energy materials such as fired masonry. The earthen materials including adobe and rammed earth are manufactured using local base soils and empirically based manufacturing techniques. These materials have rarely been studied using a geotechnical approach, and there is a general lack of recognition of the key mechanisms at work mechanically and hydraulically. In this presentation I present a review geotechnical aspects of soil-based construction materials and a summary of recent and ongoing research with colleagues from the Structures and Heritage Research Group at the Catholic University including the case history of an ancient massive earthen heritage structure of the moche culture in Peru.
Miguel Pando, Ph.D., Drexel University