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Professor Pete Walker presents at the symposium
Professor Pete Walker presents at the symposium

Internal News - 04 September 2007

Engineers promote clay buildings for modern use

Professor Pete Walker, Dr Andrew Heath and Sophie Hayward in the Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering recently returned from co-organising the International Symposium on Earthen Structures held at the Indian Institute of Science in Bangalore (IISc).

It is estimated that over one-third of humanity lives in structures and buildings made from earth. Although poverty is the image often associated with living in earthen buildings in developing countries, unfired clay building offers sustainable modern solutions for increasing population growth in countries throughout the world. In the UK there are an estimated 500,000 mud and clay buildings still in use. Architects, builders and engineers are taking increasing interest in clay for its low embodied energy, passive environmental control and aesthetic values.

The symposium was planned to bring together practicing professionals, manufacturers, designers and researchers engaged in the theory and practice of building with unfired clay. Over 150 delegates from 13 countries participated in the conference, presenting 55 papers over three days. Presentations included papers on strengthening of adobe buildings in Peru to improve their earthquake resistance, an overview of the work by Professor Gernot Minke from Kassel University, Germany, and environmental testing of buildings in Australia.

Professor Walker and Dr Heath co-organised the symposium together with Associate Professor Venkatarama Reddy (IISc) and Dr Jean Claude Morel, from ENTPE, a school of engineering in Lyon, France.