Earthen Products for Beauty and Structure: An Introduction
While concrete has become the go-to resource for most all structural mass projects, Rammed-earth provides many more attributes that are aesthetic, thermal and structural. We use Rammed-earth methods in several ways:
Pneumatically Impacted Stabilized Earth (PISE), which is similar to a “shot-crete” application on a swimming pool. Stabilized earth is applied under great force to a one-sided formwork and around the re-enforcing steel. This leaves a smooth finish on the form side, with a course granular texture on the outside.
Conventional Rammed-earth, is installed between two forms and hydraulically impacted with tamping machines. This style leaves a finish that is smooth on both sides with a layered pattern similar to sedimentary stone. Both of these styles achieve a compressive strength of over 600 pounds per square inch.
Watershed block is a formed block similar to the common concrete block, but has a very low carbon footprint, and a dramatic visual appeal. These blocks come in a number of different colors and textures, fitting into the conventional structural mindset of many engineers. Watershed block requires less labor and specific knowledge for correct installation than PISE or conventional rammed-earth.
Much research has been made into where these materials originated and their future use. Concrete has one of the largest carbon footprints in the construction industry, and is not a justifiable solution as a long-term product.
This article about the Egyptians’ method for building the pyramids is recommended for a new perspective on this old material.
As the art and form of building has changed over the years, we at Semmes and Company Builders, Inc. would like to help you build a lasting project for today and tomorrow.
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