Rammed Earth Eco-village – Malawi

Sam’s Village is an ongoing rammed earth project by African Vision Malawi and Cave to design and build an eco, permaculture village. Sam’s Village teaches vocational building and craft skills while educating about permaculture techniques. Therefore improving employment prospects, crop viability and nutrition in an area of extreme poverty and extreme weather conditions. This is a unique and innovative opportunity to work with communities in Malawi. The aim is to develop a standard construction detail based on adapting and improving on local building techniques. The method of research is to establish relationships with local craftspeople and builders.  Their methods and traditions will be studied and various sites will be visited to see the diversity of Malawian architecture. As a result the knowledge collected will be used to develop a model for future rammed earth building design in Malawi.

Sustainability is a key element running throughout the brief at Sam’s Village. In terms of the villages construction, relationship with its environment, socially and economically.

Rammed Earth

Because rammed earth walls (aka pise) are constructed by the compacting (ramming) moistened subsoil into place between temporary formwork panels. When dried, the result is a dense, hard, but breathable, monolithic wall.

A vernacular green building material as well as in more recent ‘Eco houses’, rammed earth is an ancient form of construction, usually associated with arid areas. There remain plentiful examples of the form around the world – evidence that rammed earth is a successful and durable way of building. A few historical rammed earth buildings are to be found in the UK.


Sam’s Training Village from Sam Palmer on Vimeo.

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