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Essential Rammed Earth Construction (PDF)
The Complete Step-by-Step Guide
Rammed earth – sand, gravel, and clay or lime/cement binder packed into forms – is a low-energy, high-performance building method, yielding beautiful, sustainable results. It’s thermally stable and can be insulated, can actively modulate humidity, provides a healthy indoor environment, and allows site materials to be used for major structural and building envelope elements.
Essential Rammed Earth Construction covers design, building science, tools, and step-by-step building methods for any climate, with a special emphasis on building in cold climates of the northern US, Canada, and northern Europe. Coverage includes:
- Overview of earthen building
- Appropriate use of rammed earth walls
- Stabilized versus raw rammed earth
- Design considerations, including structural, insulation, and building envelope details
- Special considerations for cold and freeze-thaw climates
- Construction drawings, with step-by-step building instructions
- Tools and labor covering industrial methods, low-tech techniques, formwork options, mix design, budgets, and schedules
- Codes, inspections, and permits.
This guide is an essential resource for experienced builders, DIY home owners, designers, engineers, and architects interested in learning about rammed earth construction.
Tim J. Krahn, P. Eng. is a registered professional engineer and partner in Building Alternatives Inc., consulting engineers specializing in non-conventional structural and building envelope design. He holds a masters degree in geotechnical engineering, a bachelors degree in civil engineering, is a founding member of the Natural Building Engineering Group, and is the chair of the Ontario Natural Building Coalition. He currently resides in Ontario, Canada.
"Rammed earth construction is enjoying a renewal as people recognize it as a great, climate-friendly way to build. With research and experimentation all over the world expanding the range of clay construction, Tim Krahn brings a much-needed and science-based update to a North American audience of designers, engineers and builders. Tim, what took you so long."
Bruce King. P.E., author, The New Carbon Architecture
"Essential Rammed Earth Construction is a great book for anyone who wants to deepen their technical knowledge of rammed earth walls systems. I appreciate all the work Tim has put in to aggregating a vast body of knowledge into a useful book. It's very helpful to have a book on rammed earth that is more focused on engineered rammed earth walls for cold climates."
Clifton Schooley, Clifton Schooley & Associates, Rammed Earth Designers and Builders
"This book provides excellent background, engineering science and practical advice for constructing rammed earth structures, from an established Canadian designer and builder. Tim Krahn takes us through the whole story, touching on current research into the mechanical and thermal properties of the material, to testing for compliance, to guidance on methods and details. The guide provides a welcome, up-to-date view of rammed earth construction and will be especially of interest to those building in colder climes."
Charles Augarde, Professor in Civil Engineering, Durham University, UK
"Rammed Earth as a building technique has been practiced for around 10,000 years. It is arguably the most popular method of building worldwide. The demands of modern building require modern information. This book provides it. Both old and new information and techniques are covered so very well. With excellent advice for professionals and for beginners alike, it is an excellent book that should expand the successful use of rammed earth worldwide, thereby making the world a better place."
Stephen Dobson, Ramtec, Western Australia. Builder of over 750 rammed earth structures since 1976.
"Tim has produced an excellent, well-balanced book. Essential Rammed Earth Construction will provide a comprehensive guide for engineers, builders, architects and clients to the specifics of rammed earth construction. Thoroughly researched, both academic and practical, this book raises the bar for rammed earth construction and will prove a valuable addition to the arsenal of rammed earth designers and builders around the world."
Dr Paul Jaquin, Structural Engineer, Queenstown, New Zealand
"One of the traditional criticism of earthen structures is that they cannot hold in harsh climatic conditions. With this excellent work, Tim Krahn presents in a comprehensive, scientifically sound and not sugar-coated way how rammed earth buildings can hold in cold climates like Canada too. The book is very useful not only for practitioners, but also for scientists and whoever is wondering if rammed earth buildings could be an effective solution to tackle climate change."
Alessandro Arrigoni, Postdoctoral Researcher, Dept. of Civil Engineering, University of Toronto
"Tim's Essential Rammed Earth Construction pulls apart the subject and gets into all the interesting aspects of the material. His thoughts on rammed earth's larger-than-expected carbon footprint and potential alternatives to Portland cement give me hope for this great material as we move to lower carbon options. If you are an architect, engineer, or contractor, this book has the details to help you understand rammed earth."
Terrell Wong OAA, President of Passive Buildings Canada, Stone's Throw Design Inc., Architect for the Environment
"Tim presents the engineering understanding of rammed earth construction in the honest voice of an experienced expert. Be you technical or practical, experienced or novice, this book has something for everyone."
Dr Christopher Beckett, The University of Edinburgh
"Essential Rammed Earth Construction has all of the essential knowledge for completing a successful rammed earth project. Written by a geo-technical engineer with experience ramming earth, the book will assure you that all of the nitty gritty details are covered."
Kelly Hart, author, Essential Earthbag Construction
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