Transmission principles

Social, economic and cultural contexts in the Rhône-Alpes region allowed the restoration of rammed earth heritage.

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Intervention of conventional building companies.

In general, for maintenance, repairs or restorations, a company will use the materials it knows. These are materials of which the usage has been taught in school.
It is not recommended that a building site become a research and development laboratory.
In a company, to allow the correct organisation of a building site, cost estimation and realisation, each stakeholder must be trained in the use of the material.
Industry generally proposes easy, quickly applicable products.. The information on the product is passed down by the material retailer or by the commercial service from the product manufacturer.

Transferring a gesture.

After some short explanation, a child is capable of compacting a clayey soil into a supporting structure. Many DIY builders, when following some precise instructions, achieve some very nice repairs with local soils.
There is no difficulty in learning, and therefore teaching, the different tasks involved in the act of restoring with a specific soil. It is a process that works very well on a building site. It could also easily be done in school after preparing a rammed earth support.
Currently, the transmission of this craft to a person with its ability to see, hear and touch is only a matter of gesture.
The need to restore the rammed earth heritage in the Rhône-Alpes region has clearly been expressed by many individuals. Political will and administrative decisions would permit the organisation of courses to transfer this knowledge.

Transferring the science of observation and the choice of methods.

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Whereas the learning of the technique needs little knowledge and time, the choice of a method is, on the contrary, a process that needs many years of experience and is very closely related to the capacity to observe.
There are many parameters that are essential and interconnected which concern the building as a whole, its use, its environment and the materials used.
None of these parameters can be neglected or omitted and any modification on one of them will change the others.
This science of observation is acquired on the building sites through a variety of projects, backed up by technical or scientific data and as always, empirical data too. The same is valid for the evaluation of damages and risk assessment.
Written or audio/video transmission, whatever its content or length, can give a good idea of observational skills and raise awareness to heritage restoration, but it will not replace on site experience. For example, teaching if the base of an existing rammed earth wall has a good cohesion, or if it has excessive water content, must be done on site using the sense, the sound and the sight to compare with other supports. Sometimes even the smell can be used.
Whether it is about maintaining, modifying or restoring a structure, senses and empiricism are the unavoidable basics for constructing using natural materials.
If we want knowledge transmission courses to be valuable for the rammed earth heritage, these will have to be done in real social, economic, technical and climatic conditions, in other words, on real restoration projects.
Any other case should only be considered as initiation and raising awareness.

Nothing extraordinary, just a craft.