Building for Health & Well-Being

Natural Building in the City: Salutogenic Construction Materials and Techniques in Urban Environments

Fall Conference Proceedings

Author(s): Joseph F. Kennedy

Recent decades have witnessed a resurgence of vernacularbuilding techniques based on materials suchas earth, lime, stone and straw. These methods arecommonly known as “natural building.” Renewedinterest in vernacular and new natural buildingtechniques such as straw-bale construction, compressedearth blocks, hemp-lime, and earthbags, aswell as hybrid systems with conventional construction,has been driven by several factors, including:economy, environmental concerns, cultural interests,community building, and aesthetics. But muchof the attention to these techniques has stemmedfrom their salutogenic (health-supporting) qualities,including the absence of artificial chemicals.Indeed, many early natural buildings were built forclients suffering from multiple chemical sensitivities.These clients, as well as their architects and builders,pioneered the adoption of these methods into contemporarybuilding codes. Natural building methodsalso support human well-being in ways that havebeen mentioned anecdotally, but are difficult tomeasure, such as: tactility, light modulation, as wellas through their hygroscopic and/or acoustic properties.Most natural building techniques also supportplanetary health, as they are often local, have lowembodiedenergy, and/or can sequester carbon.

Volume Editors
Billie Faircloth, Howard Frumkin & Sara Jensen Carr