page 1 page 2
page 3
page 4
page 5
page 6
< prev - next > Construction Stone construction KnO 100079_Building with stone part one (Printable PDF)
Earth is a popular building material all over the world. It can be used by itself, but if there is
stone available, then the two can be used together to make very good buildings indeed. And it is
not very difficult to do - this article will show you how.
Why use stone and earth?
The first of several very important
reasons is that they can be free!
The materials - stones, and earth
from termite mounds (anthill soil)
- can cost nothing. If you are
lucky they can be gathered close
by, perhaps even clearing
agricultural land in the process.
Secondly, you can do the work
yourself. You do not need a
mason and you will need only
simple tools.
Earth buildings will last a long
time, much longer than ordinary
housing. In some parts of Africa,
the grandfathers cannot
remember their houses being
built. This is because there is no
wood for termites to eat - you use
their homes instead!
Figure 1: A rondavel built of earth and stone.
Houses built with these materials are cooler in the summer and warmer in winter than expensive
houses built with blocks and corrugated iron. They look much better too, because they use
traditional materials.
Tools and materials
The tools required for working with earth and stone are simple and inexpensive. Try to borrow
those that you do not already own.
You should be able to collect the different shapes that you will need, but it will save time
searching if you have a simple 'club' hammer. Then you can shape some of the stones, and break
others for the small pieces that will be needed to help fill the centre of the wall. It can also be
useful to have a crow-bar to break off good pieces of stone from large boulders and rocky
You will be using material from termite colonies to make the mud mortar, so you must have a
spade or shovel and a pick to loosen the earth. You may also need a wheelbarrow to bring the
material to your site. Containers to bring water and to mix the mortar in are necessary; although
you can also mix in the wheelbarrow.
Practical Action, The Schumacher Centre, Bourton on Dunsmore, Rugby, Warwickshire, CV23 9QZ, UK
T +44 (0)1926 634400 | F +44 (0)1926 634401 | E | W
Practical Action is a registered charity and company limited by guarantee.
Company Reg. No. 871954, England | Reg. Charity No.247257 | VAT No. 880 9924 76 |
Patron HRH The Prince of Wales, KG, KT, GCB