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The Rowen Travel Award was granted for the study of historic rammed earth structures in Spain and India. Eight locations in northern Spain and three in northern India were visited during October and November 2006. The object of the visits was to gain a greater understanding of historic rammed earth. Methods of construction, modes of failure and repair techniques were investigated. Use of rammed earth as a modern building material is increasing, and the study of historic structures can inform development of the technique today. A number of examples which are considered to be of interest to practicing engineers are presented. The examples deal with the presence of water in earthen structures, cracking and methods of crack repair, the facing of rammed earth with a less permeable material, and medieval seismic protection measures. This work forms part of a PhD looking into the analysis and conservation of historic rammed earth structures, with field visits being a major aspect of the study.
Paul Jaquin, MEngUniversity of Durham
Thomas Kuhn argued that science progressed from one ruling paradigm to another through periods of revolution, and also that science was concerned not so much with truth, but with theories that explained phenomena. While most scientists would be uncomfortable with such a relativist and non-realist philosophy of science, engineering could be seen as fitting much better into this Kuhnian perspective. This is because engineers are more interested in dependable models for fabricating safe artifacts than in the truth (i.e. correspondence with reality) or accuracy of their theories. The fact that many different design paradigms produced safe structures in the history of structural design is also a testimony to this. Prof. W. P. S. Dias, PhD, DIC, MIStructE Department of Civil Engineering, University of Moratuwa, Sri Lanka