Technique Overview

Shaped Earth

Direct shaping makes use of plastic earth and does not require a mould or formwork. Plastic earth is shaped, as a potter would do it. The quality of the soil, its preparation and the water consistency are known only to the builders. This technique presents the advantage to use minimal and very simple tools, and to use a minimum of labour which is necessarily skilled. This technique allows very fluid architecture with a great variety. The limitation of this technique is mostly the know-how for the soil quality and controlling the shrinkage when the wall dries.

This technique has been and is still used a lot in Africa, in the Sahel as well as in equatorial regions. Beautiful examples can be seen in Cameroon where shaped earth has been used for houses and granaries. Natural stabilisers have been use traditionally in countries like Nigeria and Ghana but also in more countries of this area of the world. They either used the juice of plants and vegetal or boiled seeds or other plants to prepare natural glues which were added to the soil. Unfortunately most of this knowledge has been lost over the years with the mirage of “Modern Development”.


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