The scientific and technological research base for earthen architecture construction and conservation is limited compared to that of other building materials. The overall aim of Project Terra activities in this area was to develop systematically the conservation of earthen architecture as a science, in order to provide an improved understanding of why and how earthen materials deteriorate, establish standardized methods for investigating material properties and behavior, and identify and evaluate options for care and intervention. Specific objectives of the research component included the following:

  • Establishing the current state of knowledge in the field of earthen architecture conservation;
  • Identifying gaps in knowledge and research needs;
  • Promoting and undertaking needed research in both the lab and field; and
  • evaluating existing and developing additional options for conservation intervention.

Work Completed

Earthen Architecture Research Survey

  • Conducted in 1998, this survey was undertaken to poll the field regarding perceived research needs and to identify current research initiatives.
  • The survey was a complement to the Gaia Research Index, which involved a similar survey in 1992.
  • Two hundred and thirty-three questionnaires were distributed to individuals and institutions involved in the field of earthen architecture conservation. The response rate was twenty-three percent.
  • The results were analyzed and compiled in a report disseminated in June 1999.

Research Meeting

  • The Terra partners organized an experts meeting in conjunction with the 8th International Conference on the Study and Conservaton of Earthen Architecture (Terra 2000), sponsored by English Heritage. The meeting provided an opportunity for scientists and other conservation professionals to exchange ideas about avenues of research and opportunities for collaboration. A Summary Report of the meetings discussions and recommendations is available (see Research Report).

Assessment of Existing Treatments

  • In partnership with New Mexico State Monuments and consultants, the GCI undertook an assessment of the Phase I research at Ft. Selden, New Mexico, which tested various treatment options for adobe walls (see Phase I Report).

Terra Bibliography

  • The Terra project compiled a bibliography on the Study and Conservation of Earthen Architecture, sorted by author and by general category, (see GCI Project Terra Bibliography).

Literature Review

  • The GCI and CRATerre-EAG, in collaboration with specialists in the field, undertook a critical review of literature in the field of earthen architecture (1985 to 2000) to help establish trends and needs in research related to the conservation of earthen architecture.

Page updated: December 2006