Rammed earth vault

This elective workshop, lead by Gian Salis at the Chair of Architecture and Construction of Prof. Annette Spiro, D-ARCH, ETH Zurich, explored the design and construction of vaulting with pre-fabricated rammed earth elements.

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The aim of the teaching and research project was to theoretically and practically convey the relationship between material, construction, form and architectural appearance. The search was for new architectural images for buildings whose character is defined via material and construction.

The set task was to develop a pavilion consisting of space-spanning constructions made out of rammed earth. Due to the fact that rammed earth can only absorb compressive force the students designed the respective structures together with experts. It emerged that it was possible to build such structures using pre-fabricated elements. One design was chosen for further elaboration, and in a workshop all of the elements were rammed by the students using non-stabilized rammed earth.

The vaulted roofs were rammed resting on their faces and then rotated during the assembly process. This technique was the result of tests undertaken by us that showed that the compressive strength is generated irrespective of the direction in which the rammed earth layers runs. After drying the elements were erected within the space of three days on the campus of the ETH Hönggerberg to form a durable pavilion. The project was the first time that load-bearing rammed-earth vaulting was constructed using pre-fabricated elements.

Project lead

Project partners

  • Martin Rauch, Lehm Ton Erde GmbH - Dominik Abbrederis, Hanno Burtscher, Clemens Quirin, Thomas Honermann, Laura Marcheggiano, Assunta Rauch
  • Walt+Galmarini AG - Dr. Andreas Galmarini, Oliver Bruckermann
  • Block Research Group, ETH Zurich
 - Prof. Dr. Philippe Block
  • Students of the Elective course "Material-Werkstatt", ETH Zurich - Andreas Zimmerli, Anil Erkan, Anna Hüveler, Antonia Forster, Audrey Mondoux, Basil Witt, Beat Lüdi, Blanca Rieder, Botian Li, David Brunner, Deborah Suter, Elisabeth Suter, Francesca Wyser, Georg Bachmann, Gnanli Landrou, Jessica Wilcox, Per Johan Alvfors, Julianne Gantner, Leif Linhoff, Lion Haag, Lorraine Haussmann, Lukas Nacht, Manuel Däster, Manuel Lergier, Mathias Lattmann, Nadine Jaberg, Nina Hug, Patrick Suhner, Remo Reichmuth, Ricardo Joss, Simon Burri, Simon Schoch, Tessa Vollmeier, Thomas Meyer, Valentin Surber, Zimu Wang, Ziyue Ding



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