light earth research



project details

Department of Trade and Industry, Partners in Innovation Programme

c. £90,000

July 2001 ­ December 2002 (plus one further year of monitoring to December 2003)


Light earth construction involves the mixing of straw, woodchip or another 'fill' material with a clay slip to form a material which is placed between shutters either side of a wall frame. It sets to form a completely natural, insulating mass which is then plastered on both sides. The technique may be viewed as another useful technique for those interested in low impact construction and has certain advantages when compared to straw bale and (solid) earth construction.

The first objective of the research was to introduce the potential and benefits of Light Earth Construction to the UK industry. The second was to establish the technical viability of this technique in the UK and through this, to support compliance with building standards and lenders'/ insurers'requirements.

The three deliverables of the project were a demonstration building constructed and monitored, a website and a report. The report contained the results of a series of tests to establish the technical characteristics of light earth, a number of case studies from around the world, guidance on construction, maintenance and costs, noting best practice advice based on the involvement of an Advisory Group of experienced practitioners from around the world.

Having prepared the bid for the research, with assistance from Gaia Research, Chris acted as Project Manager for Gaia Architects, and was solely responsible for the project throughout its duration, liaising with several specialist sub-contractors, arranging study visits, fire performance and thermal testing, assessments by Latents Defects Insurers and many other aspects. The website can be found at:


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