Meet on earthen build­ing be­gins at GUtech

Muscat Daily - - NATION -

The first In­ter­na­tional Sym­po­sium on Con­tem­po­rary Earthen Build­ing in Oman was launched at the Ger­man Univer­sity of Tech­nol­ogy in Oman (GUtech) on Mon­day.

The two-day sym­po­sium, which saw in­ter­na­tional ex­perts in the field of earthen build­ing aimed to cre­ate a plat­form for dis­cus­sion and ex­change be­tween the academia, the govern­ment and the in­dus­try.

“Earth is a ma­te­rial with deep his­tor­i­cal rel­e­vance in Oman. It is in the DNA of Oman. Yet, de­spite the count­less ex­am­ples of earthen build­ings, it is lit­tle dis­cussed or per­mit­ted as a ma­te­rial for present-day con­struc­tion. This de­spite the proven ben­e­fits to air qual­ity, re­cy­cla­bil­ity and low-em­bod­ied en­ergy,” said Prof Wayne Switzer from the Depart­ment of Ur­ban Plan­ning and Ar­chi­tec­tural De­sign (UPAD) who ini­ti­ated the sym­po­sium.

Ac­cord­ing to a re­cent study, if 50 per cent of the res­i­den­tial con­struc­tion would be sub­sti­tuted with earthen ma­te­rial in Oman, around 2.2mn tonnes of ce­ment and 1.3mn tonnes of CO2 emis­sions could be po­ten­tially saved an­nu­ally, said Prof Wayne.

The Rec­tor of GUtech, Prof Dr Ing Michael Modi­gell in­au­gu­rated the sym­po­sium. He high­lighted the im­por­tance of the sym­po­sium, en­hanc­ing aware­ness about the pro­duc­tion and the use of more en­vi­ron­ment­friendly con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, while sub­sti­tut­ing ce­ment, one of the main con­trib­u­tors of CO2 emis­sions.

“The con­struc­tion sec­tor is re­spon­si­ble for one third of the to­tal CO2 emis­sions world­wide while also pro­duc­ing 30 per cent of the to­tal waste glob­ally,” said Ni­co­las Coeck­el­berghs, ar­chi­tect and co-founder of BC ar­chi­tects in Brus­sels, Bel­gium.

“Earthen plas­ters pro­vide bet­ter air qual­ity, bet­ter acous­tics, and reg­u­late hu­mid­ity,” he said.

Ac­cord­ing to Coeck­el­berghs, in Bel­gium only 37mn tonnes of earth are ex­ca­vated each year which can be used as a con­struc­tion ma­te­rial.

“The amount is equiv­a­lent to 1mn trucks. To cre­ate aware­ness among ar­chi­tects and to learn how to con­struct earthen build­ings with earth bricks and clay con­crete, his com­pany has been or­gan­is­ing com­mu­nity work­shops in Bel­gium as well as abroad - for com­mu­ni­ties in Nige­ria and Morocco.

To pro­mote earthen build­ing in Ger­many, of­fi­cial rules and reg­u­la­tions for earthen ar­chi­tec­ture were in­tro­duced by

Dachver­band Lehm e.V., the Ger­man As­so­ci­a­tion for Build­ing with Earth.

Cur­rently, earth is used as a con­struc­tion and con­ser­va­tion ma­te­rial in Ger­many, said

Stephan Jörchel from the Ger­man As­so­ci­a­tion for Build­ing with Earth.

Ac­cord­ing to the EU ac­tion plan for a cir­cu­lar econ­omy re­cy­clable and en­vi­ron­ment­friendly raw ma­te­ri­als must be used. Dur­ing his pre­sen­ta­tion, Jörchel also showed ex­am­ples of earthen paint and earth plas­ter fin­ish on a wall heat­ing sys­tem.

The first day of the sym­po­sium fea­tured pre­sen­ta­tions from ex­perts, dis­cus­sions and crit­i­cal re­flec­tion.

The sec­ond day will in­clude hands-on demon­stra­tions and a par­tic­i­pa­tory work­shop in the en­gi­neer­ing work­shop.

Ex­perts from Ger­many, Spain, and Bel­gium will be on hand to demon­strate and present how dif­fer­ent build­ing tech­niques are al­ready be­ing im­ple­mented.

The sym­po­sium is the first event on earthen build­ing in Oman, which was launched at GUtech in 2017 when stu­dents con­structed an ‘Earthen Tower’ on cam­pus.

(Sup­plied photo)

Prof Wayne Switzer ad­dresses the gath­er­ing of the earthen build­ing sym­po­sium

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