Earlier this spring, an interesting project appeared outside of the entrance of the Harvard Design School’s Gund Hall – an installation made entirely out of mud and earth. Several months later, the structure is still standing, demonstrating the potential of rammed earth construction and the use of mud as a building material. Engraved into the mud is a plaque with the following words written: Built with EARTH and WATER. Fashioned by the human HAND. As RESILIENT as concrete. This wall can be reclaimed by NATURE.
MudWorks is a design project Initiated by Anna Heringer (2012 Loeb Fellow) and Martin Rauch (and expert in clay architecture), and produced by the 2012 Loeb Fellows. In late March, designers and design students alike from Harvard University, MIT, RISD and various architecture practices across the U.S. laboriously set the mud into the angular shapes they still hold, using wooden casings to hold the rammed earth as it dried. The finished product is well worth their time. As the sun changes positions in the sky, the installation’s appearance grows even bolder against the stretching shadows. You can see this effect in the video below.
The installation is meant to challenge architecture’s sustainability values and material choices – especially those regarding socioeconomic, labor impacts. Earlier this year, Heringer told the Architects Newspaper “As an architect I can decide on the technology. I can decide who’s getting the profit. When I worked in Bangladesh, I immediately saw who was getting the profit. When you buy a bag of cement, that’s gone.” We are excited to see how much longer Mudworks will brave the Boston weather!