Rammed earth construction at Harvard’s Graduate School of Design.

What does a wall want to say?

Mud is an extremely expressive construction material, and the MudWorks project is already making a strong statement on the busy corner of Quincy and Cambridge Streets. Still, the rammed earth wall can’t say everything that needs to be said about the project. It needs an inscription.

Since construction started on Saturday, we’ve been talking with Loeb Fellow and MudWorks designer Anna Heringer about what to say, how to say it and where to say it. We settled on a s hort, just-the-facts quartet of sentences, and decided that this pretty much sums things up:

Built with EARTH and WATER.
Fashioned by the human HAND.
As RESILIENT as concrete.
This wall can be reclaimed by NATURE.

Then we had to decide where to inscribe the text. So with the help of GSD students we organized a mock-up. Oscar Malaspina and Nick Rivard took time from their hectic scheduls to print out the phrases and try various locations. This one seemed to work:

Mock-up for MudWorks inscription

Mock-up for MudWorks inscription

But after some discussion, we decided that it was actually too prominent, and took away from the main event, the mud wall. Oscar went back to his computer and designed a new version that will wrap around the base in a single, continuous line.

The plan is to engrave the letters into the mud. That means volunteers will have to work fast. Because so many volunteers have come out to help in the last two days, work has gone very fast. The MudWorks crew expects to begin taking off the wooden forms from the main wall today.
Thanks to Loeb Fellow Ian Lockwood for these great photos:

Chris Calott & Jean Lauer working on mud sail

Loeb Fellows Chris Calott and Jean Lauer working on the mud sail

Digging

Nick and Caroline

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