Friday, June 30, 2006

Oh Canada!

What better way to celebrate Canada day and the wedding of Alec Setten to Mrs. Alec Setten than to tune into Rammed Earth Canada?

If you've done any of your rammed earth homework, you've certainly come across their site. In doing so, you've read:

We are an environmental building company dedicated to improving the quality of life by developing sustainable rammed earth communities accross Canada.

We design and build a range of structures from custom housing to environmentally planned communities, which are composed of residential, commercial, public, and industrial buildings

and lastly

We will be posting new information daily as of July 1, 2006.

New information daily? July 1 2006? Woo-Hoo! I know what I'm doing tomorrow!

Sunday, June 18, 2006


"Hey, great blog, very enthusiastic about rammed earth! I've done some Schmidt hammer tests on rammed earth samples, sometimes with quite varying results. I was wondering what sort of reading you got from your rammed earth walls and samples?"

Our footing readg 4400 psi or 30.336939981811625 mpa.

The one rammed earth block of ours that our friend tested read 2100 psi or 14.478994082228276 mpa.

The next time he's in town, we'll have him conduct more tests!


The Nk'Mip Desert Interpretive Centre is finally open.

Good things come to those who wait.

Without a doubt, it is a magnificent structure in an incredible setting. A fun and educational way for the whole family to learn about Canada's pocket desert.

Yet despite the grandeur of vision (to say nothing of the staggeringly excellent functional performance) of the edifice, I overheard someone describe the facade as "drive by pretty."

Indeed, there's plenty of warts and cold sores all over the wall. Those blemishes could very well be there for the rest of all our natural lives. But maybe not. Regardless, can you imagine being the guy who had to do the "walk through?"

Efflorescence is a tricky thing. How much free lime could be in a 250,000 kg wall? How long will it take to come out?

How did the wall end up two different shades ?

Good design can go a long way to keep unfortunate things from happening.

And when they do a little creativity, flexibility and brute force can usually remedy the situation.

All in all, you gotta give it up for Nk'Mip. It really is quite a thing.

Group hug everyone!

Friday, June 16, 2006

Go Again

Sorry if we've already sent you here, but even if we have, it's worth another look.

Rammed Earth Constructions, you have a great site. Kudos especially on your links page.

Rammed Earth in Africa!

I just found an exciting new blog. It's called African Architecture and Design.

Here's an interesting article about rammed earth followed by a lively discussion.

Here's another article about rammed earth in Africa involving David Easton. (Wait, where's the skid steer?)

Hammer time!

Proctor hammer? (Parachute pants?)

No no no, it's Schmidt hammer time.

Now I don't know if your engineer will sign his name to your 5 story upside-down rammed earth pyramid strictly based on the findings of a Schmidt hammer, but it sure is fun walking around testing various materials with this easy to use tool.

Here one of the professionals from Solum Builders checks the foundation. Later one of the professionals from Solum Builders checked some rammed earth. After that, a rock, a tin can, a grapefruit and my bicep. My bicep was harder than all of them (842 mpa)

Incidentally, the hand compacted rammed earth color samples that you might have seen on this blog tested at 2100 PSI, which when you check your conversion table, you'll see that's about 14.5 MPA--up from the 12 MPA results we got months ago. The stuff gets harder as time goes on. (But then again, what doesn't?)

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Sunday, June 11, 2006

More Mail!

We just got a delightful message from someone wanting to share their feelings about their new tamper--an Inersoll Rand 341.

Kind person, if you are reading this now, drop us a line at

We are always looking for more content.

That goes for everyone! Who out there is working on a project? Who out there isn't working on a project? Who out there loves/hates rammed earth? Why? Who out there has some fun/not fun experiences to share?

Remember, RAMMED EARTH IS FOR EVERYONE, and in that instance, this is YOUR BLOG. If you haven't noticed already, we'll print JUST ABOUT ANYTHING.

So like I said, if you're an earth rammer or are an aspiring earth rammer, give us a shout:

Sunday, June 04, 2006


In our continuing survey of builders and architects using the rammed earth medium, we come to Apparatus Architecture, a firm located in San Francisco.

Not only do they build with rammed earth, but they build with PISE as well.

I wonder who they use as their rammed earth contractors?

Saturday, June 03, 2006

Yes But No

The local building inspector is having trouble getting his mind around rammed earth. Like many, he asked "why not ICF's?"

(to which a sharp witted rammed earth contractor friend said "ICF's are a really great way to feel good about Polystyrene and cement.")

The building inspector said "ICF's take much less time--and much less labour than rammed earth."

That is true. Pre-fab modular homes take even less time than ICF's. (Just as a McDeathculture hamburger takes a lot less time than a good mensaf.)

Which is all well and good, and clearly there is room for all forms of building under God's green canopy, no matter how filthy, ugly or temporary.

As to the notion of taking less labor--why is that a good thing? One of the many reasons why rammed earth is such a good thing is because it is so labor intensive and the materials are so common, simple and inexpensive. Wouldn't you rather give your money to a person in exchange for their labor than a factory in exchange for their highly processed filthy death culture styrene formwork? Who needs to pay for all that embodied energy that goes into the boring glossy catalogs, the ugly corporate denim shirts the 'reps' have to wear, shipping the factory-made polystyrene to my local big box blight on the land scape who will then mark it up so as to keep alive their particular form of wickedness (glossy catalogs, corporate denim shirts, etc...)

Lastly, ICF's put the concrete in the inside and the polystyrene on the outside. Unless polystyrene is your thing (and that's ok too) you still have to do something to your walls on the inside and outside. Unless you put concrete on the outside of the insulated concrete forms it will need to be replaced long before a rammed earth exterior will.

Who's saving time now?

Keep it simple. Cut out the myriand of middle men, middle women and middle managers. Hire your family. Pay cash. Re-use as much material as you can.

Are you finally getting the jist?

R A M M E D E A R T H I S F O R E V E R Y O N E !