Micromorphological description of vernacular cob process and comparison with rammed earth

Erwan Hamard, Cécilia Cammas, Blandine Lemercier, Bogdan Cazacliu, Jean Claude Morel

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
46 Downloads (Pure)


Past builders have developed very low-embodied energy construction techniques optimizing the use of local building materials. These techniques are a source of inspiration for modern sustainable building. Unfortunately, this know-how was orally transmitted and was lost as earth construction fell into disuse during the 20th century in European countries. The absence of written documents makes necessary to use an archaeological approach in order to rediscover these construction strategies. Micromorphological analysis of thin sections collected in earth building walls was used for the first time to describe cob construction technique and highlighted several typical pedofeatures allowing to clearly identifying this process. Finally, a first comparison of the cob and rammed earth micromorphological features permitted to identify two key factors to distinguish these two techniques, the manufacturing state (solid or plastic) and the organization of the material in the wall.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-215
Number of pages13
JournalFrontiers of Architectural Research
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jul 2019
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2020

Bibliographical note

This is an open accessarticle under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/).


  • Architectural heritage
  • Cob
  • Micromorphology
  • Pedology
  • Rammed earth

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Architecture
  • Building and Construction
  • Archaeology
  • Urban Studies


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