Experimentation with CEB (Compressed Earth Block) in Mayotte from 1980 to 2023

Conférence organisée dans le cadre du Workshop international « Building with earth/construire en terre » à Brussels Environnement du 03/07/23 au 07/07/2023

L’International Summer School "Building with earth" à Bruxelles a été organisée par la Faculté d’Architecture La Cambre-Horta, de l’Université Libre de Bruxelles et BC Materials-Bruxelles. Organisation et animation de la Summer School et de la Conférence : Thomas Vilquin, Chargé de cours à l’ULB et Jasper Van Der Linden, Architecte et formateur à BC Materials. 3-7 juillet 2023.

To this day, raw earth appears in only a fraction of the projects built in Europe. As such, it is rarely included in the education of students in architecture. Yet, this material is integral to our vernacular architecture – even if this has been forgotten in (too) many regions. And more importantly, it presents a deeply ecological character : locally available, unfired, recyclable and reusable – not to mention its applicability in structures and its contribution to good physical properties for the building. As such, earth represents a crucial asset in construction and architecture, as we are looking to make them sustainable.

Hence this summer school’s objective : to give the opportunity to learn to build with earth the only way it works – with your own hands. More precisely, this 1-week program aims to offer a good opportunity to dive into the basics of earth construction, , as well as to provide an introduction to various earth techniques that are commonplace in the present-day practice. What is earth, as a material ? What are its properties ? How is it rooted into our vernacular architecture ? What does contemporary architecture in raw earth look like ? How do you assess the potential of a local earth ? How do you use earth to build in rammed earth, cob, blocks, and to make plasters ? We will answer these questions through a combination of lectures, visits and hands-on workshops, led by experienced tutors and practitioners. You will be part of a mixed group of students and young professionals from all over Europe (and even beyond !).

This presentation aimed to present the structuring of the BTC (Compressed Earth Block) sector in Mayotte, which emerged in the late 1970s as part of the social housing policy. Based on initial experimental affordable housing projects, the choice of this construction technique was guided by the expertise of the CRATerre laboratory from ENSA Grenoble. The objective of this presentation is to understand the origins of the introduction of this technique in Mayotte, the architectural projects, and the role of architects from the mainland in the development of the sector between 1980 and 2023. A contextualization of current dynamics in the revival of the local sector raises questions about the involvement of architects in relearning the construction know-how associated with this technique through the design of new housing projects, mostly experimental, since 2018, in the context of the ecological transition. We will examine the context of the commission, the obstacles and opportunities related to implementation, and the role of BTC in these projects.

Voir en ligne : Programme