UEL Construction Fortnight – Week 1

A week in the life of UEL MArch Architecture students as we collaborate to experiment with rammed stone walls.

This week is all about the mix and getting it right, using local aggregates as a by-product from the quarry 500m from site…


Monday – 26/09/22

Studio Bark is in collaboration with The University of East London’s MArch Part 2 ARB/RIBA students to research and test the capabilities of rammed stone.


Led by Sarah Broadstock and Ella Thorns, the students began creating reusable molds from plywood boards to be assembled into cubes for the rammed stone testing.


Within the week students will document their findings, adjusting various factors of their investigation to draw conclusions about the use of the material and questioning how it can be used internally as well as externally within a building. Reflecting on what adjustments can be made to the testing of the material to accommodate these uses.

Tuesday – 27/09/22

Initial testing began today at the University Of East London with MArch Part 2 students.


Studio Bark’s Ella Thorns began by explaining the aims of the testing phase to document through iterative trials rammed stone bricks that could be suitable for building construction.


To begin the testing phase, students used; 25% of 4-10mm aggregate, 65% of 0-4mm aggregate, 10% of clay, and water to incorporate a mixture to be rammed into the container molds constructed from plywood.


The mixture was then tested by dropping the mixture at various heights called ‘The Drop Test’. After initial mixing was completed, students compressed small amounts of the stone mixture between their hands. By simply dropping these pieces onto the ground, students were able to draw a rough idea if the material had reached optimal moisture content.


Variations in ingredients such as; water, clay, and aggregate were considered and recorded as students documented through photographs, and observed the mixture as it rammed into the molds.


The students conducted their research throughout the day, creating many samples of rammed stone mixtures that will be further studied within days to come.

Wednesday – 28/09/22

Rammed Stone test samples continue to show promising results. Yesterday’s test samples was gathered together, each given various numbers associated with their mixture and was then photographed carefully. This allowed students to draw visual comparisons between the rammed stone samples and allowed for further variation in further production of samples. Such as changing the technique used in ramming the mixtures within the molds for example. After more samples was produced students then decided to incorporate and experiment with the use of lime. Under supervision from Ella Thorns and UEL’s in house technicians, Students had created further rammed stone blocks by adding lime into their rammed stone mixtures. Delegating variations in regards to quantities students produced 3 samples of rammed stone blocks, each with varying amounts of lime in each sample.


Thursday – 29/09/22

With many more samples of rammed stone blocks, students documented collectively all the samples that were produced across the week so far. Students then began amassing data such as; the cost of the materials used to produce rammed stone, the carbon footprint as well as calculating the embodied carbon of all the materials used in producing the Rammed Stone samples. When this data was collected further testing was scheduled such as; Weather testing, compression testing as well as fire testing in order to further understand the durability and capabilities of each of the samples created. Helping finalize and understand which samples were successful and suitable to be used on a construction site.


Friday – 30/09/22

A thorough day of testing the Rammed Stone samples was conducted at UEL, MArch students began the day by documenting their findings and observations after recovering samples of Rammed Stone from the laboratory dryer which was set to 100*c from the day before. Students had discovered that after the water content had been dried the Rammed stone mixes were now all beige in colour. Students then recorded their measurements of each sample and weighed each one before beginning the ‘compression test’. The ‘compression test’ involved compressing each sample of rammed stone until cracks and breakage was recorded allowing students to gauge the durability of each sample of rammed stone. Thereby allowing students to determine which of the rammed stone mixes was the most successful.



Keep following each day our rammed stone journey!

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