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AR40392: Natural building materials

[Page last updated: 15 October 2020]

Follow this link for further information on academic years Academic Year: 2020/1
Further information on owning departmentsOwning Department/School: Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering
Further information on credits Credits: 6      [equivalent to 12 CATS credits]
Further information on notional study hours Notional Study Hours: 120
Further information on unit levels Level: Masters UG & PG (FHEQ level 7)
Further information on teaching periods Period:
Semester 1
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Summary: CW 20%, EX 80%
Further information on unit assessment Assessment Detail:
  • Coursework 1 (CW 20%)
  • Examination (EX 80%)
Further information on supplementary assessment Supplementary Assessment:
Re-Assessment Exam (where allowed by programme regulations)
Further information on requisites Requisites:
Description: Aims:
To develop an awareness of and enthusiasm for building design and construction using natural materials and methods, and develop understanding and ability.

Learning Outcomes:
On successful completion of the unit the student will be able to demonstrate:
* a broad understanding of the context, characteristics, manufacture and applications of natural building materials;
* sufficient knowledge and insight to design, specify and build with confidence using natural materials and methods.

A range of knowledge and analytical techniques necessary for the architectural and building engineering design using natural building materials.

Outline the main issues of sustainability relating to building materials: environmental impact; CO2 emissions; embodied energy; recycling of materials; role of natural materials; vernacular building methods and appropriate technology. Designing to take account of unfamiliar material properties and appropriate construction methods; designing in the absence of prescriptive codes of practice.
These issues are then to be considered in relation to the following material types and construction methods. Depth of coverage may vary between these areas, and additional materials/technologies may be introduced into or removed from the unit with the development of appropriate technologies.
Earthen construction: adobe; rammed earth; cob; compressed block; wattle & daub; soil mortars; material suitability; stability, durability, manufacture; characteristics; applications; design; case studies.
Timber construction: natural 'green' timber construction; properties & characteristics; production and treatments; building technology; applications; traditional connections; design; case studies.
Natural fibre construction: bamboo; straw bale; grasses and leaves; wool; turf roofs; animal skins; properties and characteristics; applications; building technology; design principles; case studies.
Natural binders: pozzolans; gypsum; lime; sulphur concrete; production and characteristics; techniques (lime mortar; lime-crete); applications; design principles; case studies.
Stone: materials (rock types); sources and extraction; environmental impact; properties; durability; applications (foundations, walls, roofs, and floors); design; case studies.
Waste materials: waste paper and textiles; sewage sludge; coal wastes; blast furnace slag; bauxite waste; rubble; rice husks; coconut wastes; wood residues; water hyacinth; vegetable wastes; applications; case studies.
Caves and underground dwellings; ice (igloos).
A number of external expert speakers will be invited to deliver specialist lectures (e.g timber construction; use of lime).
Further information on programme availabilityProgramme availability:

AR40392 is Optional on the following programmes:

Department of Architecture & Civil Engineering
  • UEAR-AFM03 : MEng(Hons) Civil and Architectural Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEAR-AKM03 : MEng(Hons) Civil and Architectural Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)
  • UEAR-AFM07 : MEng(Hons) Civil Engineering (Year 4)
  • UEAR-AKM07 : MEng(Hons) Civil Engineering with Year long work placement (Year 5)