The construction of the country’s largest earth rammed wall has been completed at Woman’s Living Heritage Monument in the City of Tshwane.
There are four walls in total that each span three storeys high. Earth rammed walls consist of a mixture of damp soils with the additions of stabilizers to result in a solid wall. These building methods find their origins from ancient times, and have been re-visited due to its sustainable building material characteristics. One of the main challenges that Themba were faced with was the regulation of the design as well as construction method of the walls; as there is currently no regulatory document governing earth rammed wall construction. To ensure that acceptable standards were put in place in terms of the design, material selection, construction and maintenance of the wall, Themba had to develop their own specifications in order to achieve appropriate levels of reliability.
Constant liaison had to be kept with the contractor and architect to ensure an acceptable final result was achieved. Since the walls were so large, the total volume of soil that was required amounted to a considerable haul, therefore material selection that was cost effective was important. The walls’ final aesthetics are dependent on the material properties and required that the chosen material could be acquired over a period of time without changing its consistency. Several “miniature” versions were constructed on site as its visual look and robustness could only be assessed after a deliverable object was made.
We at Themba are very proud to have been part of these walls, as it has not only widened our expertise, but hopefully created a trend of using such a sustainable building system.