English English.   Español  Español.

The application of Appropriate Technology

An Introduction To Stabilized Earth Construction


Soil is a universal building material and is one of the oldest known to humanity.
Simple soils (without additives), or soils improved by adding stabilizing materials
such as bitumen or cement, are suitable for homes, schools, roads, and other
For construction purposes, soil is usually formed into blocks. Two general types of
blocks are described here: adobe block and stabilized earth block formed under great
pressure. adobe blocks are made from moistened soil that may be mixed with straw or
other stabilizers. They are formed without pressure and usually cured in the sun.
Stabilized earth blocks (sometimes called rammed earth blocks) are made from soil
mixed with stabilizing material such as Portland cement, formed into blocks under
high pressure, and cured in the shade.
Low cost is a primary advantage of soil block construction. An overall cost reduction
of about 50 percent over conventional construction can be realized. Other advantages
are that building materials are usually readily available and little skill and training are
required for their use. The material is culturally acceptable in nearly all countries,
including the United States.

Taken from the VITA publication “Village Technology handbook”.

You can read the whole document as a PDF file (390 KB)