rammed earth iv

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I have every other Friday off from my internship in the city, so I’ve been alternating when I come down to Sunnyvale to work.  It’s a nice break from the city – open space, warm, quiet.  Day IV landed on a Saturday – a busy one for the farm, too, as they were preparing for a big fundraising event that evening. 

There was still a group coming to the garden to learn and help out for a few hours, and I had the opportunity of utilizing some man-power.  This brought me back to my Habitat for Humanity days of managing a team without having a clear direction of what exactly needed to happen.  Regardless, we had a good time sifting and breaking up the large pile of soil that was conviniently moved to the site for me (Thanks, Gavin and Wes).

After this, I did some soil sampling, making three test blocks – rammed earth lite.

The first one I made with half sifted, half unsifted soil.  It was not nearly structural enough and fell over with the high clay content.  I also didn’t ram it in enough courses.

The second sample was the best, as I did a better tamping  job and added sand to the mix.  I wasn’t sure at first what the consistency should be of the soil, but, basing it off of my previous cob experience and various readings, it should have slightly more sand than cob.

The third sample had more sand, which should make it better, but I think I just need to find a better way of tamping these little guys, as it wasn’t as consistent as sample 2.  I will do more tests next week.

My coming challenge is to figure out how to make the formwork with the seemingly necessary pipe clamps… creative problem-solving to take charge of this one.


Author: Meg C

Meghan is a recent Master of Architecture graduate from the University of Cincinnati. She is interested in all aspects of sustainability, finding the most pertinent ways it relates to the built environment including social justice in terms of material choice, implementation, and life-cycle. While pragmatic concerns are ever-present, she constantly explores the inexplicable beauty to be found in the intersection of order and the poetics of space.

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