Compressed Earth Blocks

The soil, raw or stabilized, is slightly moistened, poured into a steel press (with or without stabilizer) and then compressed either with a manual or motorized press. It is a development from traditional rammed earth. It seems that the first attempts at Compressed Earth Blocks (CEB) were tried in France, in the first years of the 19th century: The architect Mr. Francois Cointeraux tried around 1803 to pre-cast small blocks of rammed earth. He used hand rammers to compress humid soil into small wooden moulds which were held with the feet.

One had to wait till 1950 in Colombia for a housing research programme to improve the hand-moulded adobe. The result of this R&D was the Cinvaram, the ancestor of the steel manual presses, which could make very regular blocks in shape and size, denser, stronger and more water resistant than the common adobe. CEB technology has been a great mean for the worldwide renaissance and promotion of earth construction in the 20th century.

The input of soil stabilization allowed building higher with thinner walls, which have a much better compressive strength and water resistance. With cement stabilization, the blocks must be cured for four weeks after manufacturing. After this, they can dry freely and be used like common bricks with a soil cement stabilized mortar. Compressed earth blocks are most of the times stabilised, as showed in the examples hereafter. Hence we prefer to name them now Compressed Stabilised Earth Blocks (CSEB).

USA, Pagosa Springs - Buddhist retreat (Photo Jim Hallock)
Cinvaram - The first press for compressed earth blocks
Burkina Faso, Ouagadougou - Pan African Institute (Photo Th. Joffroy)
Zaire, Kinshasa - School sponsored by UNIDO
Ivory coast - Restaurant
Ivory coast, Afotobo - Cost effective house built in 10 days by trainees
Mali, Bamako - National Research Centre (Photo J.L. Pivin)
Mali, Bamako - French Cultural Centre (Photo J.L. Pivin)
Marocco, Marrakech - Apartments (Photo H. Guillaud)
Egypt, Fayoum - House (Architect & photo Adel Fahmy)
Egypt, Gizah - House (Architect & photo Adel Fahmy)
Turkey, Istanbul - Minimum Emergency House
France, Mayotte - Social housing (Photo Th. Joffroy)
France, Mayotte - Prefecture (Photo Th. Joffroy)
France, Mayotte - Airport (Architect Pascal Rollet)
France, Mayotte - Office of tourism (Architect Pascal Rollet)
Madagascar, Antananarivo - House (Photo Th. Joffroy)
Somalia, Genale - School sponsored by UNESCO
France, Grenoble - House built in 30 hours
Salvador - Earthquake resistant house
India, New Delhi - Ex Headquarters of Development Alternatives
India, Bangalore - Eco resort Hessarghatta (Arch Chitra Vishwanath)
India, Gujarat Khavda - 23 m2 house built in 62 h. by an 18 man team
India, Gujarat - Earthquake resistant house
Auram press 3000, multi mould manual press with 17 moulds
India, Tamil Nadu, Auroville - Visitors Centre
India, Tamil Nadu, Auroville - Solar community kitchen
India, Tamil Nadu - Sri Karneshwara Nataraja temple
Saudi Arabia, Janadriyah - Exhibition Centre
Saudi Arabia, Riyadh - Al Medy Mosque built in 7 weeks
Colombia, Near Bogota - Apartments (Arch. Mauricio Sanchez)
Colombia, Near Bogota - Architect Mauricio Sanchez
Colombia, Near Bogota - Convention centre (Arch. Dario Angulo)
Colombia, Near Bogota - Apartments (Arch. Dario Angulo)
Bangladesh, Dacca - Training Institute (Architect Kirtee Shah)
Bangladesh, Dacca - Training Institute (Architect Kirtee Shah)
Gambia, Sandele - Resort
Gambia, Sandele - Resort
Mexico - House by Ital Mexicana
Mexico, Loreto Bay - Houses by Tierra y Cal
Nigeria, Kaduna mosque
Iran, Bam - Earthquake resistant house
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