Can we build the future using an ancient material?
That's precisely the idea behind ERDEN PURE Walls, this year's New European Bauhaus prize winner in "Techniques, materials and processes for construction and design."
The project from Schlins, Austria, suggests using prefabricated unstabilised rammed earth as a building material that is 100% natural and recyclable.
But why isn't this widely available element used more in construction?
Martin Rauch explains that for a long time, rammed earth has been frowned upon in Europe. As building materials and techniques got modernised, we began to see earthen construction as undeveloped and unrefined, but that's a misconception.
Martin developed a unique prefabrication technique for making unstabilised rammed earth elements.
The material is unstabilised because no cement is added to the mixture. This key distinction enables the walls, besides their natural, earthy look, to passively regulate indoor temperature and humidity. They also offer haptic materiality perfectly matched to contemporary architecture.
The raw material is earth excavated from local construction sites, usually a waste product, and modified with sand, gravel, or clay to serve as a building foundation. The mixture is poured into long courses of formwork and rammed one layer at a time with a specially designed machine.
Elements are customisable based on the desired finish and application.
The prefabrication process improves production and construction and allows for consistent, high-quality output, crucial to meeting standards and keeping up with other industrialised construction products.
In their practice, ERDEN engage with local craftsmen, carpenters, ceramicists & others, to create meaningful spaces for people to live in. Their co-creation approach is interdependent with the community of makers.
By starting the ERDEN Schule (Earthen School), they want to address the relative lack of know-how in rammed earth construction.
Their long-term mission: to educate the young, train the willing and engage with the older ones in the community through seasonal "Erdenfest" workshops!
? © European Union
- Prizes 2021, Award Winner
- Project locations
- Schlins, Austria