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Issue 4.2

Evolving Vernacular: Reinventing Rammed Earth in the Context of Twenty-First Century Seismic Regulation

The vernacular architecture of the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region in southeast France is dominated by unstabilized rammed earth buildings. Despite a plentiful source of raw material, cultural anchorage, and low carbon footprint, the use of rammed earth in new building projects is severely constrained by contemporary building codes and norms which have been developed around industrial building products, to the detriment of natural building materials. In particular, stringent seismic regulations have rendered monolithic earth masonry difficult to justify structurally. The Maison Pour Tous design/build project identifies and demonstrates a replicable path for new rammed earth buildings within the existing regulatory framework. While cost remains a challenge, the successful realization of the Maison Pour Tous illustrates that rammed earth is no longer relegated to the region’s past.

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