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Quentin Branch Residence - Rammed Earth Construction
Quentin Branch residence - rammed earth construction
Ramped-Up Earth
An ancient building technique aids modern design

Last year, on a bright spring Sunday in the Southwest, I spent a day sifting a pile of dirt in exchange for beer, BBQ and, most importantly, a cursory knowledge of rammed-earth construction. Across the street from the dried up Santa Fe River in New Mexico, a crew of friends and I gathered to construct the future home of Zane Fischer, a sustainability-minded arts writer and strategist at mobile-optimized web-design company Anagr.am, who chose rammed earth to keep him warm at night—and cool in the day. Finish Story >

Zane Fischer attended one of Quentin Branch's 3-day workshops and then built a house featured in the Columbia Journalism School's e-zine, written by Rani Molla (you may have to create a free account to sign in to view the entire story).

Rammit Yourself Workshops

2023 Spring Workshop Schedule

September 15-17
October 13-15
October 20-22

Learn the basics of rammed earth, including technical data, dirt choice and testing, tamper maintenance, wall-forming and dirt-tamping.

Register Online at rsvpBOOK.com

Site: Oracle AZ (85623) home of Quentin Branch
Fee: $900 for three days
Information: (520) 631-6861

Workshop Testimonials

Each workshop will include instruction in designing and building with rammed earth, including technical data and supervised hands-on experience constructing a wall.

The curriculum will include:

  • Forming a rammed earth wall with modular forms and embedded insulation
  • Installing electrical outlet boxes and conduit
  • Comparing rammed earth reinforced with rebar versus post-tensioning rods
  • Writing specifications for stabilized and water-resistant rammed earth
  • Making test cylinders using ASTM standards
  • Mixing, placing, tamping and stripping a rammed earth wall
  • Designing headers, bondbeams and roof-attachments

Participants may bring half-full 5-gallon buckets of any soil they might want to use for building. This will be tamped into regulation-formed cylinders for later testing at soils labs in participant's home towns.

I would just like to thank everybody for the great school and social event this past weekend. Everything was great. (I'm already missing Julie's breakfast burritos.) The unselfish sharing of your vast knowledge and the desire to teach others is incredible. I almost felt like family. Thanks again.
-Tim Engholm (Three Points, Arizona)