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FAIRE 2021

Ornament and performance of earth

Atelier Aino – Élise Giordano, Charlotte Lovera, architects; Louise Dubois, designer; Franck Boutté, engineer, amàco, Cycle Terre

Prototyping and analysis of ornamental elements in order to improve the thermal renovation of buildings

Prototyping and analysis of ornamental elements in order to improve the thermal renovation of buildings


Can ornamentation contribute to the hygrothermal performance of raw earth as a construction material and thus re-establish it in future architecture?

In southern Algeria, it is believed of traditional branch-whipped coatings that their micro-reliefs create shade and thus cool down the surface temperature of the wall and building. Drawing from this principle, the team will investigate how the surface texture of compressed earth blocks (CEBs) can augment the natural qualities of building earth, such as thermal inertia, hygrothermal regulation, and haptic properties of the material.

An iterative approach will be used between design, production of prototypes, and  quantification of performances. Atelier Aïno will elaborate the design of the blocks and brickwork, and will be supported by the technical expertise of the engineers at amàco. The hands-on approach to research will serve to experiment with textures and brickwork, working with the earth prepared by Cycle-Terre. Franck Boutté Consultants’s engineers will take on a computational approach and quantify whether these CEBs with a specific ornamentation and brickwork present any benefit in terms of hygrothermal comfort (regulation and phase shift) under different assumptions.

The thermal scenarios developed will help clarify whether increases in the exchange surface produced by the various patterns and morphologies provide any real added value in terms of inertia and comfort levels. For demonstration and educational purposes, low prototype walls made of ornamented CEBs will be erected and exhibited at the Versailles Architecture and Landscape Biennale, or at the premises of Cycle Terre, and in particular in its future training center. The research approach will be promoted through a publication outlining the assumptions and findings of the thermal and environmental studies, including a design process logbook. The method applied is that of experimentation and favors expenses in “gray matter” over technological solutions to develop the case for massifying the use of excavated earth in construction.

Atelier Aïno, architecture and materials

Atelier Aïno is an architects’ cooperative created in 2016 by architects Élise Giordano and Charlotte Lovera, as well as Louise Dubois, a materials designer. Involved in the circular economy, Atelier Aïno favors rehabilitation over demolition to reduce waste. The philosophy is “doing less” early into the project in order to “do less” later on, considering what exists as leverage and use the pools of resources that are already in place.

Franck Boutté consultants, environmental engineer consultancy
Franck Boutté Consultants is a leading, best-in-class consultancy firm active in the fields of design and environmental engineering and sustainable development as applied to buildings, districts, cities, and territories. The firm brings together engineers, architects, and urban planners, often from hybrid backgrounds.
amàco, expertise and consultancy in raw earth
Atelier matières à construire (amàco) is a research, training, and testing center for raw materials at the crossroads between scientific, technical, artistic, and architectural cultures. It aims to contribute to the ecological transition of the building sector. amàco’s core competencies are in earth characterization and formulating and developing new building materials made from raw earth.

Cycle Terre, manufacturer of building materials made from raw earth
Cycle Terre proposes reusing and utilizing excavated soil to manufacture construction materials that have low environmental impact. Since October 2021, the manufacturing facility located in Sevran, in the northeastern suburbs of Paris, produces a range of local eco-sourced building materials under a short-supply chain scheme, including compressed earth blocks, mortars, and coatings.


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