Research and development of earth based construction techniques
Context (starting point & circumstances – involved people/unit)
Research and development of earth-based construction techniques has been carried out in Auroville since 1989 by the Auroville Earth Institute (AVEI, previously known as the Auroville Building Centre).
Earthen technologies are found to be cost effective, low carbon, low embodied energy solutions for construction, thus particularly needed and appropriate to the development of Auroville and countries in development. Amongst other techniques, the Institute has developed a vast experience in using Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks. CSEB is compressed and stabilised with as little as 5% cement to produce structural masonry units with greater strength and longevity than the average country fired brick. Ongoing research aims to find the possibilities to maximise the use of raw earth found locally as the main building material, thus minimising the use of steel and cement. AVEI has designed a whole range of machinery for producing CSEB, including manual and hydraulic presses.
The development of roofing techniques incorporating arches, vaults and domes integrates and revives techniques of past centuries and millennia into new constructions, making use of their proven resistance.
To achieve disaster resistant constructions, research has been oriented towards the development of a system based on reinforced masonry with CSEB that are hollow interlocking.
Goal & expected outcome
The aim of the Institute is to develop and disseminate technologies using a maximum of raw earth and a minimum of other material. It aims at conveying the message that earth can be a means for creating a new form of architecture. Rather than a finished product, this form of architecture may be the starting point for facilitating new forms of behaviours and relationships, based on harmony, friendship and disinterestedness rather than indifference, competition and strife.
More details on research domains
The Auroville Earth Institute in the representative and resource centre for Asia of the UNESCO Chair Earthen Architecture, Constructive Culture and Sustainable Development. It also belongs to a network of institutions researching earthen constructions around the world.