Department of Architecture and Civil Engineering

Developing rammed earth for UK housing / Strength characteristics of rammed earth

At a glance

Funding body: DTi
Principal investigator: Pete Walker
Researcher: Vasilios Maniatidis
Dates: 2002-2005



Over the last 30 years there has been considerable growth in the number of loadbearing compacted earth buildings worldwide, including in Australia, France, Germany and the USA. In addition to the many housing projects applications have included churches, hotels, factories, schools, and exhibition centres.

Though over the past few years there has been growing interest in rammed earth in the UK (Earth Centre, Eden Project, Centre for Alternative Technology, Woodley Park Centre), further development for housing and other construction sectors has been hampered by a series of real and perceived risks for the client and designer, including: lack of an enabling regulatory framework; lack of national guidelines for design and construction; higher costs of a labour intensive construction process; reputation for poor durability; poor thermal performance; and, limited data on physical characteristics of the material.

The project aimed to address these restrictions by developing and promoting national design and construction guidelines for rammed earth construction for housing. Industry, client and commercial (finance, insurance) resistance to rammed earth building, often manifested in concerns such as poor durability and need for high levels of maintenance, will be challenged directly through the publication a credible national reference document. Development of guidance brought together worldwide state-of-the-art review for rammed earth technology, wherever appropriate adapting existing regulatory guidance from Australia, New Zealand, France, Germany and elsewhere, as well as further study of previous rammed earth initiatives in the UK following WWI.

The review has been supported by an innovative experimental research programme, which included developing the use of recycled replacement materials to improve performance levels, and completing a limited series of load tests on prototype wall panels.


Walker P, Keable R, Martin J, Maniatidis V. (2005). Rammed earth: design and construction guidelines. BRE Bookshop, ISBN 1 86081 734 3, 146 pp. pp. 146. BRE Bookshop. (1 86081 734 3).

Maniatidis V, Walker P. (2003). UK National Guidelines for Rammed Earth. In: Proceedings 9th International Conference on the study and conservation of earthen architecture, Yazd, Iran, Nov.-Dec. 2003, pp. 377-387.