A new methodology to identify and quantify material resource at a large scale for earth construction – Application to cob in Brittany

Erwan Hamard, Blandine Lemercier, Bogdan Cazacliu, Andry Razakamanantsoa, Jean Claude Morel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

31 Citations (Scopus)
98 Downloads (Pure)


A new methodology based on the cross-referencing of spatialized pedological and heritage data is proposed to identify and quantify soil resources available for earth construction. The paper underlines the pedological particularities of areas containing earth heritage and uses these particularities to propose criteria to assess the suitability of soils for modern earth construction. The methodology applied at the regional scale in France (for a given area of 27,200 km2 in Brittany) enabled to specify five new texture classes (balance between clay, silt, sand and gravel content) of suitability for cob soils. This result calls into question recommendations available in the literature.
The methodology also provides data on the scale of availability of the resource to repair earth built heritage (cob) or to build new low impact buildings with integrated modern cob walls. In the studied area the potential waste recovery of 2.8 Mt per year is measured, highlighting the large availability of materials for earth construction. At least 23 % of earthwork wastes of Brittany are suitable for earth construction (0.7 Mt). However, earth remains a non-renewable material and this resource has to be properly managed, requiring an appropriate building design and maintenance in order to increase longevity and to avoid the use of admixture, preventing earth reversibility at end of life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)485-497
Number of pages13
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Early online date23 Mar 2018
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2018

Bibliographical note

NOTICE: this is the author’s version of a work that was accepted for publication in Construction and Building Materials. Changes resulting from the publishing process, such as peer review, editing, corrections, structural formatting, and other quality control mechanisms may not be reflected in this document. Changes may have been made to this work since it was submitted for publication. A definitive version was subsequently published in Construction and Building Materials, [170, (2018)] DOI: 10.1016/j.conbuildmat.2018.03.097

© 2018, Elsevier. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/


  • cob
  • earthwork waste
  • earth construction
  • rammed earth
  • adobe
  • pedology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Civil and Structural Engineering
  • Building and Construction
  • Materials Science(all)


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