Christian Senkpiel and Joseph Orchard of bere:architects attended an introductory course in rammed earth construction hosted by bere:architects’ client James Shead at his farm in Antsy, Wiltshire.

The 3 day event was arranged by RESET development and led by Rowland Keable of RamCast CIC with warm mugs of tea, coffee, camp fire songs and inquisitive questioning provided by Blanche Cameron of RESET Development.

With instruction from Rowland a 10 man (and woman) team of course-attendees, with no previous experience, put up a portion of the wall that will become Mr Shead’s greenhouse.

The wall was constructed by hand, using earth from excavations required elsewhere on the site.

The first step was for a shallow 200mm deep foundation trench to be dug. The formwork, made of readily available scaffolding boards was assembled in sections at the base of the trench.

The first 300mm of the wall were mixed with 5% lime in order to stabilise the base of the wall from dampness in the ground. On top of this we laid a damp proof course and then proceeded to build an additional 2.1 meters of wall on top of this. The earth was added in 100mm layers and rammed to about 20mm. Slowly but surely, the formwork and wall rose to its finished height of 2.4m.

After two days of hard work, assembling formwork and hand ramming, it was magnificent to see the wall appear as the formwork was removed.

James Shead intends to hold a second workshop in August so please comment below if you would like to be kept informed.