Who We Are
Rammed Earth Works is the original rammed earth builder in the United States, having built hundreds of high profile residences and commercial projects since 1976. You could say we wrote the book on Rammed Earth, which we did with The Rammed Earth Experience by David Easton, first published in 1982. The global popularity of rammed earth is due in large part to the technological innovations and consumer confidence that originated with Rammed Earth Works and continues today.
The Rammed Earth Works team brings a combined hundred years of rammed earth building experience to every project. Our forming system, mix design and soil characterization, mixing and delivery methods, and compaction techniques have been refined through decades of experience, resulting in the most efficient, precise, and beautiful installations available worldwide.
Our work captures the essence of what draws architects and owners to rammed earth in the first place - native rock and soil transformed into elegant, emotive, resilient shelter. Yes, we’ve mastered a technology, but we’ve done so in such a way as to highlight the natural, made-by-hand character, the je ne sais quoi - of the material itself. Step inside a building with thick earth walls and you’ll have trouble going back.
What We Do
Rammed Earth Works installs rammed earth walls for select clients and leverages a global reputation to promote research, refine technologies, disseminate information and build the credibility that makes rammed earth one of the most environmentally attractive building systems.
Soil evaluation and mix designs
The goal of the soil evaluation service is to identify mineral aggregates available in the immediate vicinity of the building site and to determine their suitability for use in a mix design formulation. Typical tests conducted are a sieve analysis (ASTM C-136) to determine grain size distribution and an Atterburg limits test (ASTM D 4318) to determine the plasticity index. The soil is classified according to the Unified Soil Classification System (USCS). Based on the test data and the soil classification, a preliminary mix formulation can be predicted and an estimate of the type and percentage of amendments calculated. Selection of appropriate amendments will be based on proximity, suitability to create an optimum mix design, color, texture and cost.
Mix design formulation is the follow-up to soil evaluation. The object is two-fold: to investigate formulations that will produce finished walls that meet the expectations and aesthetic preferences of the client and architect; and to insure that the combination of ingredients will produce walls that meet or exceed the strength and durability specifications of the structural engineer and building officials.
The process by which an acceptable mix design is achieved involves the production of small test blocks and test cylinders which are cured and then tested in a compression machine. The small blocks serve as architectural samples for study and refinement. The cylinders provide a record of the compressive strengths to be expected in the finished walls. In some instances a single trial mix design set will be sufficient to meet the requirements. In others, a second or possibly third set of trial mixes will be undertaken before the desired results are obtained.
Detailing and value engineering to the design team
Value engineering is an ongoing process that takes place during concept design and design development. During this process, Rammed Earth Works collaborates with the client, architect and structural engineer. The object is to identify opportunities to reduce cost and complexity while retaining the intent and aesthetic of the architecture. In some cases, budget considerations may precipitate significant programmatic changes. In other cases, minor modifications to wall dimensions or structural details can result in valuable cost reductions. In every case, the fees associated with value engineering services can be saved in construction efficiency.
Mock-ups, sample panels, and pre-casting
Expanding on the mix design services, we frequently produce larger wall samples to serve as design tools to confirm that the rammed earth will satisfy the owner and architect’s intent. These large pieces can be shipped to any location, including the construction site to serve as a benchmark to be referred to throughout the construction process.
Pre-cast rammed earth panels, up to 5,000 pounds, can be built in the shop and shipped anywhere in the US. If built within steel frames, they can be installed as veneer pieces or stand alone art.