I found these guys for a while, then "lost" them while their site was undergoing some restructuring. This is pretty fascinating to me. They use a mixture of earth and up to 10% concrete. Here is some information from their website
FORMBLOCK is a wall building system in which stabilized earth, or concrete blocks are cast in-situ to produce a solid load bearing wall. In use now for over 15 years in a range of conditions throughout Australia and New Zealand, it has been thoroughly tested by professionals, architects and owner builders.
The FORMBLOCK method significantly reduces the labour required to produce an earth wall to only fraction of that compared to adobe (mud brick) or pisé (rammed earth) methods of earth building. As the handling of the earth material is minimised, by the in-situ nature of block making. Once the blocks are poured, the wall is effectively complete, with no further need of on going maintenance.
Making the FORMBLOCK system a cost effective and affordable method of masonry wall construction.
The FORMBLOCK Wall Kit requires no expert skill, it is easy to use and simple to understand and is ideally suited to tradespersons, owner builders, and handypersons, alike.
I have been fascinated by earth building for a long time, since I first heard of Rammed Earth. I am a long way from building my own place right now, and plans continue to percolate in my head. I am now considering a mixture of PSP and Formblock.
One thing interesting to me is they have been making a mixture of up to 10% concrete work for casting their blocks. I had understood that was not very workable, but they have been doing this for a while, and it seems to be working fine for up to 15 years for some structures. Sure, there are rammed earth structures hundreds of years old, but I think they'd know by now if their system wasn't working.
It seems neat..my only thought is why use blocks. Wouldn't custom forms that span the length of the walls be less work. Blocks are good if you moving them, i just don't see the point. Why make mortar weakness in the wall for no apparent benefit?
I realize this is a dormant thread, but thought I'd chime in anyway. I too followed the FORMBLOCK stuff for a while but concluded that their mold system was too expensive, unless you plan on building a number of structures.
Instead I looked at homebuilt molds that would give similar characteristics. What I came up with is very similar to what the guy in this blog used:
I have been involved in many earth houses.
I have not seen this system but I see merit in it.
For reasons that include;
- blocks are heavy to lift to the wall
- filling a small mould is easier
- there will no be a discernible weakness at the joins because the soil will naturally stick a bit.
- small sections can be done at a time, which is good for owner builders
- larger moulds often require air operated hammers to compress the soul, whereas a smaller drop hammer , slammer will be OK in theses forms.
John Daley Bendigo, Australia
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Permaculture Technology Jamboree: June 29th-July 10th, 2020, Wheaton Labs