Earth wall showcases sustainability

Earth wall showcases sustainability

A group of CPIT students have built an earth wall to showcase sustainable building methods.

The 17 School of Architectural Studies students were learning about earth construction as part of their Sustainable Rating Tools and Natural Materials course. 

Tutor Dr Kerry Mulligan says the elective course was developed to give students an understanding and experience in alternative forms of construction. “You don’t see earth construction on a regular basis and people don’t know much about it. It’s sustainable, it’s durable and it’s strong.”


On the course students learn about how to find materials, what kind of ratios of materials are needed and the regulations around their use.

As part of the course, the second and third year architectural students have spent five weeks building an earth wall. It showcases four different types of earth construction- cob, rammed earth, adobe bricks and light earth.

“The wall is made from all natural, local materials. If we had to take down the wall for some reason we could re-use almost all of the materials,” Mulligan says. “We wanted to show people what’s possible to create using the earth.”

Student Ben Russell says he has enjoyed the course and gained valuable knowledge. “It’s hands on and a lot of fun. You can get muddy and get stuck in there, but you’re also learning about something totally different,” he says. “It’s not a well-known construction type in New Zealand. I think it’s exciting to learn about because the future is all about sustainability.”

Student Tessa Russell says she enjoyed the experience because it was “not just about building”. “You learn about sustainability and a whole other way of life. It’s such a broad course it really makes you think about the wider context of sustainable building.”

The earth constructed wall is currently on display at CPIT. Mulligan encourages staff and students to come and see the wall, located in the courtyard outside A and E block.