Rammed earth building in the UK has a chequered history. Rammed earth is not a traditional earth building technique in the UK, but has recently been taken up as an ecological construction material. There have been around 20 rammed earth building project in the last 15 years, all with varying degrees of success.
Notable rammed earth projects in the UK include the visitor centre at the Centre for Alternative Technology built in 1992. This wall is protected at the base using sheets of Perspex, which does not help the public perception of rammed earth as a durable material. The Centre for Alternative Technology has been a leader in promoteint new construction materials and in 200X commissionted the Wales Institute for Sustainable Education (WISE) building. The building is a circular lecture theatre with a rammed earth outer wall and a timber protective wall and roof. The rammed earth is used for thermal mass and acoustic attenuation. There were some problems with the construction, but the centre is now up and running.
In 2003 a UK government funded research project ‘Developing Rammed Earth for UK construction’ led to the publication of “Rammed earth: Design and construction Guidelines”. A construction project related to this research – the Bird in the Bush project was unfortunately beset with difficulties and may have led to a poor image of rammed earth in the UK.
In 2002 Dr Matthew Hall built a stabilised rammed earth cricket pavilion at Skelmerdale, which was the subject of a BBC documentary ‘Build a house in a day’.
In 2005 Rivergreen Developments built themselves a new headquarters in Durham. The building features a central rammed earth core wall which helps to regulate the temperature in the building, but the structure of the building does not rely on the rammed earth wall.
There have been numerous other rammed earth projects in the UK, but there in still no permanent UK rammed earth contractor – if you would like to develop a rammed earth project, please contact me.