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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).

The use of earth in modern construction is rare, unfortunately. Architects like Anna Heringer or Martin Rauch in Europe or Luigi Rosselli in Australia have shown that beautiful modern

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.


Adobe-Geomesh-Arid_Tutorial_English cove

Building hygenic and earthquake-resistant ADOBE HOUSES using Geomesh Reinforcement, for arid zones, by Vargas Neumann J, Torrealva D. and Blonder M., Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2007


adobe reforzado con geomallas Sierra cov

Adobe reforzado con geiomallas, zona de la sierra, por Vargas Neuman J.,Torrealva D, y Blondet M., Pontificia Universida Católica del Perú, Lima, 2007


adobe reforzado con geomallas costa cove

Adobe reforzado con geiomallas, zona de la costa, por Vargas Neuman J.,Torrealva D, y Blondet M., Pontificia Universida Católica del Perú, Lima, 2007



Manual de construcción con adobe reforzado con geomallas de viviendas de bajo costo saludables y seguras, por Marcial Blonder, Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú, 2010,


Adobe Tapia manual AIS-coverpage.jpg

Manual para la rehabilitación de viviendas construidas en adobe y tapia pisada, por la Asociación Colombianan de Ingeniería Sísmica AIS, Bogota, ~2004,


Adobe - Guide de construction parasismique, par Wilfredo Carazas Aedo, Misereor - CRATerre


Rehabilitation coverpage.jpg

Rehabilitation - Guide de construction parasismique, par Wilfredo Carazas Aedo et Alba Rivera Olmos, Misereor - CRATerre


manual geomalla20-11 GTZ coverpage.jpg

Manual de construcciones sismo resistentes en adobe, Tecnología de Geomalla, Cooperación Alemana al Desarrollo GTZ y COSUDE (SDC), Lima, 2008,



El Adobe, la Quincha, sistemas constructivos, una lección PowerPoint, autor desconocido,



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.


Background documentation

Blondet M. et al. (2011), Earthquake-Resitant Construction of Adobe Buildings: a Tutorial, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute EERI - World Housing Encyclopedia, Oakland, California

Bossio S, Blondet M. and Rihal S (2013), Seismic Behaviour and Shaking Direction Influence on Adobe Wall Structures Reinforced with Geogrid, in Earthquake Spectra Vol 29, issue 1, pp. 59-84,

Charleson A. (2011), Seismic Strengthening of Earthen Houses using Straps cut from used Car Tyres: A Construction Guide, Earthquake Engineering Research Institute EERI, Oakland, California

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

Leroy Tolles et al. (2000), Seismic Stabilization of Historic Adobe Structures; Final Report of the Getty Seismic Adobe Project, The Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, California

Minke G. (2001), Construction manual for earthquake-resistant houses built of earth, GATE-BASIN (Building Advisory Service and Information network) at GTZ, Eschborn, Germany

Rouhi J, Hejazirad F. (2018), A review on the Large-Scale Modeling for Seismic Strengthening of Adobe-Mud Brick Structures, Int'l Conf. on Civil Engineering, Architecture and Urban Mgmt in Iran, Tehran University

San Bartolomé A. et al. (2008), Performance or Reinforced Adobe Houses in Pisco, Peru Earthquake, 14th World Conference of Earthquake Engineering Bejing, China

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