Ancient Materials and Techniques to Improve the Earthen Building Durability
A substantial part of the world building heritage has been performed by earthen building. The durability of this existing heritage and mainly of the new buildings built with earth is particularly conditioned by the erosion caused by water action, especially in countries with high levels of rainfall. This research aims to contribute to the increase of knowledge about the ancient building techniques that provide enhanced durability. It is possible to analyse the ancestral practices used to protect the earth material from the water action in order to understand how the old earthen buildings were preserved over the centuries, resisting to harsh weather conditions. Among these techniques are: the incorporation of biopolymers (such as oils or fats from animal or vegetable origin); the addition of some minerals; and the earth stabilization with lime. However, this knowledge seems to be forgotten, probably due to the prejudice related to earthen constructions, which several times are associated with a poor building. This research also focuses on the study of new methods of earth stabilization with lime and biopolymers, adapting the ancient knowledge to improve the durability related to the water action. Therefore, alternative solutions can be obtained to improve the performance of earthen buildings, mainly the resistance of the material in the presence of water, reducing its permeability to water. In addition, with the proposed solutions it is possible to obtain good levels of water vapour permeability, one of the major advantages of the construction with earth.
José Aguiar, Aires Camões, Raul Fangueiro, Rute Eires, Sandra Cunha and Mohammad Kheradmand
R. Eires et al., "Ancient Materials and Techniques to Improve the Earthen Building Durability", Key Engineering Materials, Vol. 634, pp. 357-366, 2015