Last Updated: 11.20.01

Making Compressed Earth Blocks with the Cinva-Ram Block-Making Machine.
Nils Gore, Assistant Professor
University of Kansas School of Architecture and Urban Design

These pages show work which was completed in the Spring of 2000 in my Materials class for Second-year students when I was teaching at Mississippi State University School of Architecture ( I moved to University of Kansas in 2001). The intention of the project was to introduce students to principles of masonry construction, including the material constituents of concrete masonry, methods of manufacture, natural forces which masonry systems must resist, and principles inherent in the development of masonry systems.

I chose to use the Cinva-Ram as a vehicle for learning about masonry systems because of its low-tech/high-touch nature. With this one device, my hope was that we we could begin to:

understand the interaction of potential constituents of concrete masonry,
understand techniques of manufacturing masonry units,
understand forces which might drive the design of the individual unit,
understand how rigorous testing procedures can help us make decisions,
understand how compressed earth blocks could be used as an alternative construction system.

The following links will take you to the labs which introduced a research methodology to the students of the Materials class, and photos of the making of Cinva Blocks in the Spring Materials Class at MSU.

Part A: Acquiring Materials

Part B: Test Cylinders: 110 Different Mixes

Part C: Test Cylinder Analysis
(For photos of the Test Cylinders, Click Here)

Part D: Drawing Conclusions About Mixes

Part E: Making Blocks with the Cinva-Ram machine.
(For photos and video of the MSU Cinva-Ram in action, click here)
(For photos of the MSU Cinva-Ram in pieces, click here)
(For photos and video of the compression and water-blast testing of those blocks, click here)

Part F: Understanding Masonry Systems.
(For Block Making Tips (a compilation of recent e-mails), click here.)
(For photos of some of the "final" blocks, click here.)