Earth Construction Training

An itinerant training course

Two Haitians benefited from a 2-week internship in France.

  • Amos: a young entrepreneur living in Haiti. He has already actively participated in the development of the park while pursuing university studies in construction. Its goal is to develop an earthen construction activity by starting with the construction of buildings in the park.
  • Wilson: A young Frenchman of Haitian origin living in France and wishing to help his native village by building a community building and a classroom.

This internship included several stages

  • Training in Nantes on soil analysis methods
  • Discovery of ancient and modern rammed earth
  • CSEB production control training
  • CSEB hydraulic press maintenance training

The bad weather encountered during the crossing of the Massif Central forced us to slightly modify the planned schedule.

Rammed earth in Auvergne

The rammed earth technique goes back a thousand years (vestiges of 7000-6000 years BC in Jarmo, Mehrgarh). In France, rammed earth will almost disappear in the Middle Ages to reappear in force around 1770 under the leadership of the architect François Cointeraux. Some regions, including Auvergne, have a rich heritage of rammed earth buildings. You just have to travel through the villages to discover farms that are over a hundred years old and still inhabited.

However, it should be noted that not all the old rammed earth buildings have the rustic appearance of the farms visited. A rammed earth wall can very well be covered with a clay or lime plaster. We did not have time to cross Lyon which still has urban houses more than bicentennial with a coated rammed earth.

See A short guide to adobe architecture in Lyon( in French)

  • It's dirt !
  • Atelier toujours en service
  • Corps de ferme

The modern rammed earth in Marsac en Livardois

Visit of the building which received the 1st Prize of the National Architectures in Crude Earth (2013)

© Matières à construire
(french publication)

"The Grand Prize of the first National Palmarès of earthen constructions architectures was awarded on May 31, 2013 by Geneviève Fioraso, Minister of Higher Education and Research, to the architect Boris Bouchet and to the town of Marsac-en- Livradois for the rural area of ​​local services which has animated the heart of the village since 2012: a wooden medical center placed on an adobe store.


The various actors of this rural area of ​​local services have provided an effective response to the pressing problem of rural desertification.

In the heart of the Auvergne village of Marsac-en-Livradois, the young architect Boris Bouchet skillfully arranged the health center, built in wood, above a shop whose rammed earth walls were erected by a local craftsman.

Other actors have participated in this exemplary project: the Livradois-Forez Regional Natural Park for support on rammed earth and the State under the DETR

Contacts: Boris Bouchet, architect ( / Michel Sauvade, mayor of Marsac ( "

© Matière à construire

A photograph, an internet post  cannot replace the feeling of comfort felt inside a rammed earth building.

The Rural Space of Marsac is a fine example of these innovative contemporary creations which combine ancestral know-how and modernity. This achievement received the first national prize for earthen architecture in 2013, as well as the Architecture Prize of the 2013 First Work Prize awarded by Le Moniteur.

Mr Michel Sauvade, mayor of Marsac and initiator of this project, was extremely kind to welcome us for a guided tour of the premises.

This building, inaugurated in 2012, is 80% built with local products: rammed earth for the walls and local wood for the interior woodwork and the framework. The ground floor is used as a grocery store and the first floor is used as a local medical center.

Rammed earth serves as a supporting wall but also provides hydrothermal comfort by ensuring good temperature regulation while avoiding wasted energy both in summer and in winter. Given the aesthetic quality of the rammed earth produced, interior and exterior finishing plasters are unnecessary.

Earth construction = child's play!

Also in Marsac-en-Livradois, the construction of a new earthen building was an opportunity to carry out educational actions in the primary school.

The children built their playhouse in the schoolyard with rammed earth walls and adobe bricks that they made.

Production control training

Il existe peu d'écoles pour de se former aux techniques de construction en terre.

L'association "Le Village" à Cavaillon est une exception. Petit producteur de Briques en Terre Compressée, cette association organise à la demande des stages de formation de différents niveaux. Une partie des cours dispensés est disponible sur la page de documentation.

There are few schools for training in earthen construction techniques.

The association "Le Village" in Cavaillon is an exception. A small producer of Compressed Earth Bricks, this association organizes training courses at different levels on request. Some of the courses taught are available on the documentation page.

Our two interns thus discovered

  • How to mix the right soil without sacrificing the elegance of the bricks produced.
  • Production monitoring methods:
    Good organization is essential to ensure the manufacture of raw earth products of constant quality.
  • Perform material resistance tests:
    Without sophisticated hardware, with a simple one that can be built locally
  • Check the adhesive strength of the mortar:
  • with a basin that is filled with water ...
  • Build an economical screen with bicycle wheels.
  • etc..

A stop at Mecoconcept

The choice of the technique to be used for carrying out a structure in raw earth depends on many parameters.

The park already has an Auram 3000 press, but the use of Mecobriq, a block created by Mecoconcept, will be preferable to carry out certain landscaping of the park.

These blocks are produced with a sophisticated machine and more expensive than the Auram press, in particular because of its hydraulic system.

To ensure proper handling, additional training was provided free of charge by Mecoconcept. The trainees were thus introduced to the adjustment and maintenance of the press.

A bit of tourism

Because of its busy schedule, this internship was not a vacation. It was however possible to carry out small tourist poses

  • Chartres and its cathedral
  • Crossing the Massif Central, the joys of snow, a great first for a Haitian who had never left his island.
  • The Pont du Gard, by taking the time to visit the museum dedicated to the construction of the bridge
  • After work, discover the Avignon bridge and the Palais des Papes

The training was a very good learning experience. 

Unfortunately, Amos decided to not return in Haiti and stayed as illegal  immigrant in France.

Le Parc Quisqueya will have to wait for its building projects....


© SODEPA 2024