Building with Earth - Brazil's Most Popular Raw Earth Building Techniques and the Opinion of Experienced Builders


Article Preview

Earth building construction techniques bring the promise of being environmentally friendly, thermally comfortable, easy to maintain and aesthetically interesting. Therefore, the ideae is beginning to spread in Brazil, being divulgated mainly by institutes and groups involved with Permaculture studies. The possibility of building sustainably and independently has contributed to the increasing number of people embracing the cause and starting constructing with earth and other raw materials. But what are their opinions after the end of the process? This work brings a review on some of the most popular earth building techniques in the Brazilian Federal District and state of Santa Catarina (superadobe, hyperadobe, rammed earth, cob, stucco, and double stucco filled with plastic bottles), as well as interviews with builders and users of the resulting houses. The research showed that the houses were built mostly by the owners themselves, with only a few having relied on professional help at some point. The drawbacks appointed were the lack of qualified professionals well-acquainted with these building techniques, the difficulties in managing large groups of voluntary builders and the high physical effort demanded by some of the techniques. Actually, many houses were composed by more than one technique. Some were built using a different technique to each wall. Superadobe was the preferred one at first, however most builders decided to change to other techniques for the practicability or just for the sake of experimenting. The experimenting of different techniques was more frequent in the cases when the house was the first construction of the builder (s). Unfortunately, the lack of experience had serious consequences, for it was noticed that some buildings showed construction pathologies, such as pending walls and peeling plasters. Nonetheless, most of the users declared to be satisfied and considered earth building a good investment. In fact, the houses had good thermal performance, used low impact materials and had a medium cost of approximately BRL 310.00 per square meter. A considerably lower price than the average BRL 670.00 per square meter, estimated by Brazilian authorities for the same locations and building patterns at the time of the constructions.



Edited by:

Khosrow Ghavami, Normando Perazzo Barbosa, Ulisses Targino Bezerra and Alexandr Zhemchuzhnikov




C. A. dos Santos et al., "Building with Earth - Brazil's Most Popular Raw Earth Building Techniques and the Opinion of Experienced Builders", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 600, pp. 123-131, 2014

Online since:

March 2014




[1] Information on http: /calearth. org.

[2] B.P. Triveldi. Dirt Domes Designed for Emergency Housing. National Geographic Today, 03/04/(2002).

[3] M.G.S. Brandão Ecologia Urbana - Potencialidades e Possibilidades: Sustentabilidade na Construção Civil. 2009. p. 73p. Monografia (Especialização em Engenharia Urbana). Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro, Rio de Janeiro, (2009).


[4] Information on http: /www. lifeinthefastlane. ca/wpcontent/uploads/2008/11/sustainable_village_19sfw. jpg.

[5] Information on http: /www. ipemabrasil. org. br/ecomateriais. htm.

[6] Information on http: /www. enerxia. net/forum/topic. asp?TOPIC_ID=515.

[7] A. Soares. Soluções sustentáveis - Construção Natural. Pirenópolis, GO. Mais Calango, 2007. 64p.

[8] Information on: http: /www. earthbagbuilding. com/articles/hyperadobe. htm.

[9] Information on http: /www. citropack. com. br/produtos. php?pg=1&pCategoria=5.

[10] Information on http: /energysmartideas. com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2008/06/earthbaghouse. jpg.

[11] B. Bee. The Cob Builders Handbook. Estados Unidos: Becky Bee Publications, (1997).

[12] Information on http: /www. ecocentro. org/bioconstruindo/taipaleve. html.

[13] Information on https: /yvypora. wordpress. com.

[14] O. B. Faria. A utilização de macrófitas aquáticas na produção de adobe: um estudo de causa no reservatório de salto grande (Americana-SP), São Paulo, (Tese de doutorado), Escola de Engenharia de São Carlos - USP, (2002).


[15] C. A. Santos. Bioconstrução: Proposta Metodológica e Levantamento de Custos de Instalação para a Aplicação Simultânea de Técnicas de Redução do Impacto Ambiental em Habitações. Projeto de pesquisa para conclusão de curso, apresentado ao Departamento de Engenharia Florestal da Universidade de Brasília. Brasília, (2010).


[16] Information on http: /www. bioarquiteto. com. br/bioconstrucao/biblioteca/pau-a-pique.

[17] Information on http: /permaculturasemfronteira. blogspot. com/2007/04/pet-pique-uma-novatcnica. html.

[18] MINISTÉRIO DA DEFESA. Exército Brasileiro. Comando de Operações Terrestres. Caderno de Instrução Logística de Subsistência., 1ª Edição - (2005).

[19] Information on http: /www. unb. br/fau/pos_graduacao/paranoa/edicao2005/adobe. pdf.

[20] Information on http: /www. sinduscondf. org. br/cub. php.