The Earthen Architecture Initiative (EAI) seeks to advance earthen architecture conservation through: model projects that improve the way conservation interventions are carried out, research that addresses unanswered questions in earthen conservation, capacity building, and dissemination of information for appropriate conservation interventions on historic buildings, settlements, and archaeological sites composed of earthen materials.

The Getty Conservation Institute also supports the field of earthen architecture conservation through a vigorous program that includes laboratory research, field projects, training, conferences, and publications. Since 2006, EAI has organized and participated in experts meetings to identify key areas for project research and implementation.

Currently the EAI is engaged in international activities and institutional partnerships through the Seismic Retrofitting Project for historic earthen buildings in Perú and the Conservation and Rehabilitation Plan for Kasbah Taourirt in Morocco.

The world's earthen architectural heritage is rich and complex. A ubiquitous form of construction, it appears in ancient archaeological sites as well as in modern buildings, in large complexes and historic centers, in individual structures and in the form of decorated surfaces. Because of earthen architecture's great variety, a range of disciplines is associated with its conservation.

In recent decades, the field of earthen architecture conservation has grown tremendously. This is reflected in the development of a series of international conferences devoted to the preservation of earthen architecture, the first of which was held in 1972 in Iran.

With each conference, the number of participants has increased along with their geographic and professional diversity. Academics, scientists, architects, and conservation practitioners, united by their interest in earthen architecture, now convene every few years to discuss chemistry, soil science, seismology, hydrology, structural engineering, archaeology, sociology, sustainability, and more, as they pertain to earthen architectural heritage.

As the exchange of ideas within the field has expanded, so have opportunities for collaboration. In 1994 the Getty Conservation Institute joined the GAIA Project (a partnership of CRATerre-EAG and ICCROM) to promote the conservation of earthen architecture through the first Pan-American course on the subject.

Three years later, capitalizing on their independent and shared experiences in earthen architecture education, research, and field projects, the three institutions formed Project Terra. Although the Project Terra partnership culminated in 2006, its long-term initiatives and goals have continued under the programs of the individual partner institutions.

Page updated: July 2014