Building on and with Land
Over the past ten years earth as a construction material has begun to appear all over the country in buildings of all types from public (eg The Eden Project, Cornwall) and commercial (eg River Green Developments, Durham) to private houses. The use of earth as a building material is not new; man has used earth for thousands of years and it is estimated that approximately one half of the world’s population live or work in an earth building. Many major heritage structures are also constructed using earth, such as Alhambra in Granada and parts of the Great Wall of China. Conservation of these structures is often poorly executed and deterioration due to the effects of climate change is a concern. Dr Augarde (School of Engineering) collaborates with Dr Gerrard (Department of Archaeology) on the conservation of these historic earthen structures.
Using earth to replace or reduce the use of cement is a practical step towards lowering the carbon footprints of construction and producing a new generation of sustainable buildings. Drs Augarde and Toll (School of Engineering) are investigating the fundamental properties of earthen construction materials using techniques from geotechnical engineering. As part of the Industry Land and Health Programme of Work this team will begin to explore the possibilities of using brownfield soil and industrial wastes to generate artificial soils for construction.