Earthbag Housing: Structural Behaviour and Applicability in Developing Countries
Daigle, Bryce Callaghan
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Global awareness of environmental issues such as climate change and resource depletion has grown dramatically in recent years. As a result, there has been a surge of interest in developing alternative building techniques and materials which are capable of meeting our structural needs with lower energy and material consumption. These technologies are particularly attractive for housing. Much of the global demand for housing is currently being driven by economic growth in developing countries. Additionally, natural disasters such as the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami have destroyed houses in many countries where limited economic wealth makes reconstruction a challenge. This has resulted in shortages of permanent housing in these areas. This thesis explores the structural behaviour of earthbag housing under vertical compressive loading, in an attempt to broaden our quantitative understanding of this alternative building technique. Furthermore, this technique is assessed, along with other alternative construction techniques, for suitability in southern Sri Lanka, an area heavily damaged by the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami. It was determined that the compressive strength of unplastered earthbag housing specimens meets or exceeds the vertical compressive strength of conventional stud-frame housing technology using a variety of fill materials, with the greatest strength being observed for soil-filled bags. Furthermore, the results of observational research from a site visit to Sri Lanka in 2006, combined with resource availability data and interviews with Sri Lankan citizens, suggest that earthbag housing is a very promising technique for housing construction in the southern coastal region.