Reinforcing adobe structures
Earth (or mud) is a wonderful construction material with fantastic ecological and climatic properties. It has been used for thousands of years to build anything from simple poor huts to elaborate palaces. Built properly earthen buildings resist degradation amazingly well. In the Dauphiné region in France 80% of constructions were made in rammed earth up to the 1950s !
Earth construction is generally divided into two main categories: Rammed earth ("tapia" or "tapial" in Spanish, "pisé" in French) and mudbricks ("adobe" in Spanish). The term "adobe" is also employed to describe earth architecture in general (see the title of this web page).
buildings in earth are not only possible but also beautiful and in particular ecological. A great example of modern earth architecture are the 70 low-cost housing units built in 1985 in Villefontaine, France, by the enthusiasts of CRAterre (the Internatioanl Centre for Earthen Architecture of the School of Architecture of Grenoble). This centre, among many others, has greatly contributed to the modern understanding and promotion of earth construction.
Yet, for earthquake-resistant construction adobe is not the ideal material. Some interesting research and development has been made over the last decades.
Because of time constraints proper to post-disaster reconstruction our team has never been able to work with adobe. However we have come across good publications on reinforcing adobe which we would like to share on this page.
These shake table tests have been done at the Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima during the SismoAdobe international conference 2005. The videos have been made by Randolph Langenbach (Conservationtech). The first video shows the bahaviour of an unreinforced adobe construction during a severe earthquake. The second video shows the behaviour of a geomesh reinforced structure exposed to the same quake.
Lefèvre P. (?), Le Domaine de la Terre, retour d'expérience, article sur l'expérience du quartier HLM construit en terre à l'Isle-d'Abeau. A voir aussi https://pierres-et-terres.org/videos/vivelaterre/QueViveLaTerre2cpl.webm