Although quite an old process, Rammed Earth is making something of a come-back in the '90s as an ecologically sound building practice.   The results are beautiful, solid, and earth-friendly, although labour-intensive.

These pages are about the house I built over 2 years (1991 - 1992) on the Gold Coast in South East Queensland, Australia.  I make my living as a stand-up comedian and had no previous building experience at all, so this project was a real challenge.  And NO!!!, I would not do it again.

In short, formwork is set up around 300mm (12 inches) wide and as long as is appropriate, usually 2 - 3 metres. The formwork we used was a proprietary design made from steel angle iron supporting 17mm form-ply.

It included a key to ensure a solid fit between one set of forms and the set above them. The design, by Ramrock, Perth, Western Australia, (sorry, no contact details, though if you press me, I can find them) handled right-angled corners and heights well.

More often than not, a wall section will include an opening of some sort for a window or door, or a corner. So, imagine a long, skinny, open-topped box, 600mm high, 300mm wide and a couple of metres long. The parallel sides of the formwork are held apart by spacers, essentially pieces of 25mm x 25mm hardwood, as long as you want the walls to be thick. 

Now that the forms are being held apart, they also need to be held together. This is accomplished using through-bolts. I am not sure of the origin of these, I suspect the material is standard construction stuff. It was threaded steel rod, extremely coarse threads, with a large "nut" to tighten each end. The nut was such that it could be quite safely belted with a sledge hammer to loosen it, though we used a pneumatic socket gun. These bolts were tightened against the spacers forming a rigid frame. The end result was that if you looked into the open formwork, running across it every metre or so was an upper and lower pair of through-bolts and spacers.