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Remote Housing Need Not Cost the Earth

Example of a modern rammed earth house in Western Australia.

Example of a modern rammed earth house in Western Australia. Photo: Stephen Dobson

By Daniela Ciancio

Building and maintaining houses in remote Aboriginal communities is difficult and expensive, but engineering improvements to rammed earth constructions offer a viable alternative.

Daniela Ciancio is Assistant Professor of Structural Engineering at the University of Western Australia.

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.

Building a house in any of Australia’s remote communities can be a challenging project due to the isolation of the site and hence the difficulties and costs involved in the transportation of the construction materials and labour force. Sadly, the majority of Australia’s remote communities are Aboriginal, and are less prepared to sustain the expensive costs of a dwelling.

A University of Western Australia (UWA) research team of mostly engineers has recently discovered that the ancient building technique of rammed earth might be the solution for an affordable and sustainable housing program in remote communities.

The UWA team is currently working on a project that aims to further improve this building technique and promote its use. The driving force of the project is the discovery that a rammed earth house in a remote area built with earth collected from the same site of the house has the potentialities to be far cheaper than other construction techniques. But this is not everything! The same study discovered other environmental and social benefits in the use of rammed earth.

Housing in Remote Areas
In general, the cost of a house is mainly determined by the cost of the construction materials and the cost of the labour force working on the construction site. In a remote community, it is often the case that neither construction...

The full text of this article can be purchased from Informit.