Globally earthen structures house a significant proportion of humanity. Using time-tested building techniques, they are affordable, easily procurable and more responsive to the local environmental conditions. In our current pursuit of Sustainable Development, amidst climate change, earthen structures hold enormous potential as solutions for low-energy dwellings, energy efficiency, thermal-comfort, eco-architecture, climate responsiveness, affordability, and recyclability. However, increasing modernisation of lifestyles and rapid urbanisation have seen a steep decline in the acceptance and adoption of traditional or vernacular earthen structures. Buildings today are characterised by designs that are typically not climatically responsive, with excessive use of high-energy intensive building materials. Not only are modern building materials and techniques unsuited to locally diverse demands of climate and cultures, they place heavy demands on energy in their operation. Fortunately, in many countries interest in traditional and modern methods of earth buildings has been steadily growing as more sustainable and healthier buildings are sought. Even the global climate change panel IPCC recommends scientific validation of indigenous material to lower the resource footprint of dwellings. The introduction and development of new affordable solutions to combat critical housing shortages, using earth based materials, such as compressed earth blocks, rammed earth, cob, adobe blocks, etc. remain a primary focus for modern earth-based buildings. Recent developments include wide adoption of compressed earth blocks and rammed earth constructions. Earth building offers many advantages, including opportunity to use locally available materials, low environmental impact of construction, better thermal comfort, improved health, and a favourable building environmental performance. Challenges include lack of proper engineering design methodologies, poor seismic resistance of vernacular construction, limited data/codes on performance, uncertified products, lack of education and training, and poor regulatory mechanisms.
The symposium will provide an International Forum for information dissemination and exchange, discussions and debates on research and sustainable practice in the broad field of earthen structures, including materials, building techniques, climate responsive architecture, building-comfort, energy in buildings, climate-change mitigation and emission reduction. The symposium aims to bring together practicing professionals (engineers and architects), manufacturers, building professionals, designers, academics, researchers and students keenly interested and engaged in the theory and practice of ‘earthen structures’ for sustainability.
The following themes can include case-studies, research and innovations in earthen structures 1. Earthen materials and technology (adobe, rammed earth, stabilised earth, cob, etc.) 2. Energy and Environmental performance 3. Structural performance and durability 4. Architecture/ design 5. Heritage: conservation, repair and reuse 6. Indoor Air Quality 7. Codes and design guidelines 8. Climate-change mitigation 9. Seismic performance and design