Holcim Foundation


Throwing mud at conventional building

“3 billion people on this planet live in buildings made of mud, and with good reason!” says Anna Heringer, a proponent of building with mud. The former Awards Bronze winner strongly advocates the use of mud as a building material and stresses that building with mud is highly sustainable: mud requires no baking or firing, is readily available near construction sites, is a low cost material, and has an extremely low carbon footprint.

In climates typified by hot days and cool nights, the high thermal mass of adobe mediates the large temperature swing each day to moderate living space temperatures. 

In her work, Anna Heringer understands that the advantages of mud are not only technical and environmental, but also cultural and social. Her architecture is inclusive and enables not only the construction of housing, but also the building of communities.

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At the Architecture Biennale in Venice, Anna Heringer has created a walk-through installation together with her Awards Bronze co-author Martin Rauch from Lehm Ton Erde Baukunst, and Andres Lepik from the Architecture Museum at the Technical University of Munich (TU München). The installation entitled “Mud WORKS!” features a monolithic mud nugget “Pepita” (Italian for nugget), built in the “Zabur” technique, where the structure is shaped layer-by-layer using only the hands as a tool. Five tonnes of earth and one cubic meter of straw were used to build the three-meter-high monolith.

“Pepita” stands upon a rammed earth floor, and is complimented by a rammed earth bench, and walls colored with mud-casein and decorated with a rammed earth feature panel. Visitors to the Biennale are invited to take a seat cocooned inside “Pepita” and to experience first-hand the positive qualities and “haptic treasures” of a mud building.

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The purpose of “Mud WORKS” is a tangible call to action: appealing for more research; more technical development; new architectural solutions using adobe building techniques; adaptation of legislation and building codes; and new technologies to improve safety when building with earth-based materials. The environmental advantages for the whole life-cycle of such buildings are striking. “Mud WORKS!” is on display at the Central Pavilion (Giardini) exhibition rooms until November 27, 2016.

Anna Heringer and Martin Rauch won the Awards Bronze 2011 for Middle East Africa with their project “Training center for sustainable construction”, Marrakesh, Morocco. Their design for the Teaching and Training Center in the Marrakesh satellite suburb of Chwiter concentrates on the use of nearby resources including the workforce and earth as the primary construction material.

Anna Heringer // Architekturbiennale 2016 from BauNetz Media on Vimeo.

Last Updated: July 12, 2016
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Venice, Italy
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