caused some issues, the formwork was squeezed upwards
until we anchored it down. The formwork was the old 'acrow' type,
light weight and with a lot of tricky wedge fittings. The 15mm ply
faces gave a slight ripple effect on the face of the walls.
architects plan to make such enormously thick walls seemed
strange, the walls were not high or load bearing. Once we had
understood the scale of the project, and the walls were hiding the
domes from people coming onto site the walls couldn't be monumental
On such a large site it can be hard to control the
working conditions. For instance we worked under an incomplete roof
which caused waterfalls onto the new wall at 5m intervals. We were
obliged to set up temporary gutters to divert the rain, but these were
regularly cut down by other trades. Without the support of the main
contractor vigilance is vital!
In all about 270 tonnes of soil were used, placed into
the formwork in 150mm deep fills and rammed. The walls have suffered a
flash flood as well as the vast passing footfall that the Eden Project
enjoys. The flood did little visible damage to the rammed earth, but
destroyed the floors internally, the services, the dry-wall, the
stock, all in a couple of hours. The rammed earth meanwhile...
The cost of the walls at the time was £70 per metre
square, an extremely competitive rate! After the flood they were given
a bit of expert care with earth plaster on some worn areas. In
particular the 'shadow gap' at the bottom of the wall had not fared
well. Rammed earth takes many types of finish, none more so than clay
Clayworks realised that clay was the binder in the walls they were
happy to go ahead with clay plaster.