I’m so amazed at the worldwide growth of earthbag building. I love that just anyone can build in any way with this forgiving material. It’s perfect for those who think outside the box. Yes there are bags, but if there’s a box, I haven’t seen it.

But those working in risky areas need a more limited technique with predictable strengths. 

I started learning about earthbag as a frustrated building designer. I just wanted to know the data to help my clients choose a material. What has medium thick walls, what needs less stabilizer, which natural materials are strong enough for what places? And wow, no one knew that last question.

Nine years later, I’m thrilled my tests show good strength cohesive soil earthbag with barbed wire can be as strong as unreinforced adobe walls. At last, a benchmark!

Earthbag can also be stronger than adobe with less reinforcement. Easiest is using mesh tube to make solid walls (a.k.a. hyperadobe). With normal bags or tubes you need just the right soils and techniques to surpass adobe strength. (Uh, oh, is that a box?) So that’s why I’m calling it Contained Earth.

Anything goes with earthbag. Have a blast with it. Run into a technical challenge? Check out Contained Earth (CE). It’s a narrower set of techniques, but it does some amazing things. And we’re finding out more all the time.

So, builders, what do you think about setting a level for when earthbag becomes Contained Earth?