Books are still probably one of the the best sources of information about earth building. The books listed below are a selection of those available, and links to buy at Amazon are provided.
A comprehensive guide on construction of rammed earth houses, based on twenty years experience in the industry. David Easton runs his own company Rammed Earth Works based in Napa California. The book features some of my photographs of historic rammed earth structures.
Peter Walker et al.
The first guidance document for rammed earth construction published in the UK. This book is the result of a UK government funded project looking at use of rammed earth in UK construction.
A celebration of the rammed earth architecture of Martin Rauch.
Adobe and Rammed Earth Buildings: Design and Construction
Paul Graham McHenry
A design and construction guide based around the construction of the McHenry house. Published in 1983, but still relevant. A very good chapter on the structural engineering of rammed earth.
An engaging narrative addresses the misconceptions associated with earth architecture. It’s also assumed that earth is a fragile, ephemeral material, while in reality some of the oldest extant buildings on the planet are made of earth.
The book also touches on many topics that pervade both architecture and popular media today, such as the ecological benefits and the politics of building with earth, particularly in developing nations where earth buildings are often thought of as pre-modern or backward.
This book fills in the considerable gaps in our understanding of earth masonry, with a factual account of technical, design and construction issues. It also explores the cultural background to earth masonry, with an enthusiasm for the subject born of conviction for its potential, even for sizeable projects. It gives technical details as well as practical guidance and is extensively illustrated.
Adam Weismann and Katy Bryce
Adam and Katy of Cob in Cornwall apprenticed with the Cob Cottage company in Oregon, and now build and restore cob in the southwest of England.
This book offers a systematic approach to earth building, with many examples of the varied work of Prof Minke over the past 30 years.
Laurence Keefe is a consultant with extensive experience of earth building. He is founder member of the Devon Earth Building Association in the UK. This book looks at basic engineering properties of earth buildings and techniques for their repair.
This book, published by the UK Intermediate Technology Group provides practical advice on soil selection and building techniques, suited for developing countries, but which could be used around the world.
Hugo Houben and Hubert Guillaud
This is considered by many to be the definitive guide to earth building. Published in 1997 it catalogues the existing literature and provides guidance on construction and conservation techniques.
A celebration of earthen structures in Great Britain and Ireland, edited by John Hurd, president of ICOMOS UK Earth Structures Committee, and with contributions from a large number of authors.
A code of practice developed for new build, based on research by the author and work done at Newcastle University UK around 1995.
Gordon Pearson was Senior Quantity Surveyor in the Historic Buildings section at Hampshire County Council. He has vast experience in the conservation of the chalk and earth buildings found in that area. Specific repair techniques are outlined practical advice is given for practitioners of earthen conservation.
The Conservation of Earth Structures
Available online from the ICOMOS documentation centre. This excellent book looks at reasons for failure and repair techniques to different types of historic earthen buildings around the world.
Bruce King is a practicing engineer in California, and this book is an excellent guide to the structural engineering of earth buildings. A good introduction to structures and forces is given, and then applied to earth and to straw buildings.
There are may more older books about rammed earth building available. These include the 1926 report by T.A.H Miller regarding state of the rammed earth church at Sumter, South Carolina, the 1936 reports by Dr Ralph Patty about the testing of different mixtures of clay and sand for rammed earth building, and the 1952 bulletin by G.F. Middleton which formed the basis for modern Australian rammed earth construction.