After the Ludian earthquake in 2014, villagers lost their faith in the local traditional rammed-earth buildings, 90% of which were destroyed during the earthquake. Therefore, most villagers chose to build brick–concrete houses during the reconstruction period. However, the price of building materials rapidly increased and became unaffordable for most local villagers.
This project innovates the traditional rammed-earth building technology to provide villagers a safe, economical, comfortable, and sustainable reconstruction strategy that the villagers can afford, own, and pass on. A prototype house has been built for an aged couple. Within a limited land, the design is integrated with the living and semi-outdoor spaces to provide a comfortable and artistic living environment.
To improve the seismic performance, the components of the wall are well adjusted using clay, sand, and grass. Steel bars and concrete belts are added to the wall to improve structural integrity and to avoid vertical cracking. The quality of the building materials, rammed tools and formwork are increased. The “3L” (local technology, local materials, and local labour) strategy has been used in the reconstruction project. The environmental impact of the houses are minimized. Good thermal and daylighting performance guaranteed a low operating energy consumption.
The construction and operating costs have been minimized to be affordable to local residents. The villagers themselves constructed the houses mainly with manpower and simple tools. They could easily improve and maintain the houses in the future, and utilize this technology as a means of earning their livelihood. Local residents are fully engaged in the entire process of reconstruction.
Local government and multidisciplinary university resources are used to supported rural reconstruction. This anti-seismic earth building system will be applied to more rural projects in Southwest China. This strategy will also provide guidance for local reconstruction policies and rammed-earth building standards.