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Resilient Earthen Construction: Classical and Modern Approaches

 Bandini and Weldon

Dr. Paola Bandini

Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering

New Mexico State University

Dr. Brad Weldon

Associate Professor, Department of Civil Engineering

New Mexico State University

Friday, January 27, 2017 

Abstract:  Building with earth is considered one of the first techniques developed by humans to create their shelters. Today, about one third of the world’s population lives in some form of earthen dwelling, made of adobe masonry, rammed earth or cob, and many are in regions prone to earthquakes or extreme wind events, such as hurricanes and tornados. Adobe construction is found on all continents, including throughout the southwestern United States, in historic landmarks as well as contemporary buildings. Traditional adobe making is environmentally friendly, affordable and sustainable as it uses locally available soils and requires very little energy and water. This presentation will describe the techniques and materials used in traditional adobe masonry as well as the compelling features of earthen masonry compared with conventional construction methods and materials.  It will also describe the performance of adobe masonry as documented after earthquakes and in historic landmarks, the alternative use of fiber treatments in earthen composites, and recent research that seeks increasing the resilience of adobe construction.

 Bios:  Dr. Paola Bandini is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering at New Mexico State University (NMSU) with over 15 years of teaching, research and service experience in geotechnical engineering.  Dr. Bandini graduated with her Masters and Ph.D. degrees from Purdue University. Her current research focuses on sustainable use of new and recycled materials in civil engineering, resilience of earthen construction, bio-mediated and bio-inspired methods in geotechnical engineering (soil improvement, deep foundations, restoration of degraded soils). Dr. Bandini leads the CBBG activities at NMSU and the Infrastructure Construction Thrust for the Center. She chairs the Transportation Research Board’s (TRB) standing committee on Geotechnical Instrumentation and Modeling.

Dr. Brad Weldon is an Associate Professor in the Department of Civil Engineering and the co-Director of the Bridge Inspection Program at New Mexico State University (NMSU). His teaching, research and service focuses on structural engineering and construction materials.  Dr. Weldon graduated with his Masters and Ph.D. degrees from the University of Notre Dame. His research includes development of Ultra-High Performance Concrete (UHPC) using local materials; resilient earthen construction; load rating of bridges without plans; and modeling, design and experimental evaluation of structural elements under extreme loading. Dr. Weldon is a regular lecturer in the bridge inspection training courses and the quality concrete school. Dr. Weldon is the CBBG senior investigator (with Dr. Bandini) of a project that aims to increase the resilience of adobe construction under extreme lateral loading and weather hazards.