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House made with Earth Architecture. Text reads: Earth Made - Modern Earth Apartments

The art of building with earth is an ancient one that has stood through the test of time. Archaeological evidence can date entire cities constructed of the earth back over 10,000 years – City of Bam, Persia, Babylon, Yemen, and the great wall of china are the few examples.

Modern fashion of the 20th century created a break in the millennia-old developments – with earth being exploited and polluted with processed materials. Although earthen construction has been widely used for centuries, it has been subjected to criticism due to a series of misconceptions. It has been associated with the limited technique, last resort when no other building material is available and particularly vulnerable to seismic events. On the contrary, history has proved that earthen architecture has been adopted by choice.

Another major roadblock for practicing earth architecture is the misbelief that houses made of earth can attain a maximum height of 1-2 stories. The lack of possible vertical planning leads to overexploitation of land as a resource. However, Shibam, a city in Yemen debunks the above belief by building mud towers (100ft) built in the 16th century.

If humankind could attain this with limited technology and knowledge, why can’t we build it better today?
Despite the fact that mud has proven to be beneficial in various aspects, why is it that it’s not used more often? Is it the problem of the mud itself or is this merely a problem of the modern mind?

Challenge

The practice of earth architecture can prove to be a humanitarian step by providing homes, and at the same time a well-executed earth architecture design can help in removing the stigma that earth architecture is poor architecture. The aim is to design a modern apartment building using earth architecture techniques. The designed structure should be such that it becomes an icon of polished sustainable living that is at par with modern construction materials.

Prizes

Prize pool worth 20,000$

  • First Prize: 5000$ (For students and professionals)
  • Runner Up: 6 x 1100$ (For students and professionals)
  • People’s Choice: 4 x 600$ (Open for all)
  • Honorable Mention x 12: 500$ Each
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