Learn all about Sustainable Construction
- Improve your career prospects in construction
- Create better buildings for the future
- Discover options you may not have considered.
Note that each module in the Qualification - Foundation Diploma in Sustainable Construction is a short course in its own right, and may be studied separately.
DEVELOP YOUR PERCEPTION OF SUSTAINABLE CONSTRUCTION
There are many different ways to build walls, landscapes and buildings.
The sustainability of any construction can be measured in a range of different ways. You may be most concerned about using building materials and construction methods that have a low impact on the environment. You might also be concerned about durability and longevity of the construction. These and other factors are explored throughout your studies.
There are many different ways of building things. Some have been used for thousands of years and others are relatively new.
Some techniques can be more suited, and sustainable; in one place but not abother.
Wattle and Daub
This is one of the fastest methods of mud construction. It has been common and popular in Africa and South America and during gold rushes of the 19th century it was widely used in Australia and the USA. It has also used widely throughout history in many other parts of the world, including Europe. If a wattle and daub wall is reasonably thick (30cm or more) it can last for hundreds of years. Wattle and daub does offer more flexibility in the shapes that can be created in a wall. This method can be good if you want to create a wall with bumps and hollows; perhaps niches or shelves embedded into the wall; or artistic forms (e.g. the shape of a person or animal emerging from the surface of the wall). By constructing rough shapes in timber framework that dip into or protrude from the wall, you can provide a foundation to sculpt the mud plaster over.
One potential problem with wattle & daub can be if pests (e.g. termites) infiltrate and eat out the form work. Once the wall has settled and dried, this may not be a total disaster anyway. The wall may well still hold firm. The possibility should however be considered in areas where termites can be a major problem.
An Early English Description
Mud walls are very much used in some parts of this country where other materials are too expensive for cottages: these walls are very durable. The skeleton of the cottage is formed by upright pieces of timber, about four inches square, placed at a distance about fifteen inches from each other, and properly braced and tied together by other horizontal pieces which support the floors and roof. The upright timbers, strong plastering laths (or sticks), are nailed in a horizontal direction, and mud or plaster, composed of earth, rather inclining to clay, mixed with chopped straw is laid over the laths with a trowel. When the plaster is dry, a thin outer coat of lime and sand is applied over it. The inside of the building is lathes and sometimes plastered with mud; and sometimes with lime and hair.
I have always found those mud walls are best when composed of clay and a large proportion of sand, in sharp and angular particles: for these angular particles form as it were, wedges to hold the clay together; and the mud plaster is not so liable to crack, as when composed of clay mixed up with fine sand”
Source: “Improvisations: traditional low Cost Building Techniques" by John Archer, Second back Row Press, Australia, 1979. “
There can be many variations in the way a timber framework is created. This early English account portrays a very orderly approach. At the other end of the scale, it’s possible to use sticks and branches from trees.
John Mason (principal of ACS Distance Education) build a wattle and daub wall in 1982 in Victoria, Australia; creating a mesh work of branches and twigs off Eucalyptus trees. The smallest twigs were around 0.5cm diameter and the largest branches up to around 8cm thick. Most were 1-3cm diameter. Most held together by weaving. Any timber that didn’t hold in position was tied together with some nylon rope or nailed together. The wall was then plastered following the contours, ins and outs of the framework. The wall was then painted with several coats of 1 part bondcrete and 10 parts water on both sides. One side was the interior of a building (all other walls were mud brick (Yes you can mix building methods); and the other side an exterior wall. A metal roof overhang of 0.75 metres helped provide protection from weather.
When Mr Mason sold the property in 2003, this wall had showed no sign of deterioration whatsoever. This wall was built in a temperate climate with an annual rainfall of around 35 to 40 inches. A variation of wattle and daub is to create two timber walls with a cavity in between that is filled with mud. This type of wall can be either created by completely constructing the timber walls before filling with mud; or by building the walls step by step and filling the cavity as the timber parts are increased in height.