Historic and modern earthen structures: Challenges and recent research

P B Lourenco, R A Silva, D V Oliveira (University of Minho)

Masonry and earth construction is one of the oldest building techniques. Despite the simplicity of this construction technique in its various forms, earth construction is now becoming increasingly popular as a low carbon emission and energy efficient alternative for load bearing walls. Here, an overview of different earthen techniques and the recent activity from University of Minho, both in modern and heritage construction is briefly presented. First, the concept of earth construction and soil selection are addressed. Then, an extensive testing programme on rammed earth is revise, with a focus on earthen grouting. Subsequently, an example of engineering application to a large historical building is presented, focusing in safety assessment and strengthening. Finally, a large experimental programme aiming at the development of modern solution using compressed earth block masonry is discussed.

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