Rammed Earth: Adaptations to Urban Toronto.
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Rammed earth is an ancient and imperishable material-process. Traditionally associated with rural construction and underdeveloped settings, the material has begun to enter the modern vernacular. While its use is not yet wide spread in the contemporary built environment, its benefits and positive applications to that setting are numerous. Rammed earth as a building material possesses ripe aesthetic qualities and hard geometric forms which frame the basis of the material’s compatibility with the contemporary urban vernacular. As a building process, rammed earth has an exceptional opportunity for mechanization, allowing for its integration with the conventional modes of contemporary construction. Because of these advantages over other natural building strategies, rammed earth is poised as a viable building technique for the industrialized urban built environment. The desire for raw, unprocessed building materials should not be limited to the rural settings which hold most natural buildings. That need is present in all of global building culture, but especially in the developed built environments where resources for materials are consumed in their most concentrated abundance. Rammed earth satisfies the pressing demand for low impact materials, along with the goals of efficiency, longevity, and energy autonomy of architecture; the fundamental goals of sustainable architecture. This thesis explores the contributions of rammed earth to the built environment of urban Toronto. The material can be adapted to suit the cold, wet climate and used as an effective exterior wall assembly. It can be used as an interior service and demising wall, providing an ideal sound and fire barrier to the typical semi-detached dwelling typology of Toronto’s urban environment. It can also be employed within a trombe wall to capitalize on its solar thermal applications, for a climate with both severe winters and humid summers, in a setting where full solar exposure is unlikely. These three specific applications of this abundant, low-carbon material demonstrate its viability, desirability, and compatibility with the contemporary urban dwelling. Exploration of the benefits of this material, and its value within the urban environment, attempts to establish the advantages of this material-process compared to the conventional, contemporary wall assemblies which dominate Toronto’s built fabric.