The Berlage

Session Room K

Rammed Space: The Architecture of Pisé

Roger Boltshauser

Building with earth has been practiced and developed in different ways over many millennia: as a building material clay is available almost everywhere in the world and can be processed as a raw substance without the use of tools or machines. Even today, a large part of the world's population still lives in mud houses. From France, more precisely the region around Lyon, the knowledge of earth building also succeeded in Switzerland: centuries-old pisé buildings are still standing there today without being recognized as such under their plastered walls.In view of the rapid global changes of the last century and the associated technical possibilities for raw material and energy production, industrially manufactured materials have increasingly replaced clay as a building material. Today, the issue of sustainability is once again bringing building materials to the fore. In addition to the low proportion of grey energy and the excellent physical properties of the building material, the local availability of the building material is of interest. Millions of tons of loamy excavated material are produced worldwide every year, for which our construction industry does not find any use and therefore has to dispose of. So why not use this unused resource to build with? In research and teaching, Roger Boltshauser explores the potential of the material - possibilities of prefabrication and opportunities for hybrid constructions - and thus contributes to the renewed spread of the pisé construction method.Roger Boltshauser also works with clay in his practice: since the first collaboration between Roger Boltshauser and the Vorarlberg clay construction pioneer Martin Rauch in 2002 on the project for the Sihlhölzli sports facility in Zurich, the building material has repeatedly inspired him to design. The space is at the forefront of his work: his architectural solutions are based on an analysis of its sensual perception and its effect on people. Using projects such as House Rauch in Schlins, the Allenmoos school pavilion in Zurich and the Ozeanium in Basel, Roger Boltshauser shows his methodology and how he uses the building material earth.

In 1996 Roger Boltshauser founded his office ‘Boltshauser Architekten AG’ in Zurich. Currently a team of around 60 employees work on projects including all work phases. The completed projects derive mostly from won competitions and are distinguished with their high spatial and material density.In recent years the office has won several large-scale competitions, for example the Ozeanium in Basel, a research building ETH GLC in Zurich as well as ‘Baufeld F’ at Europaallee also in Zurich, all of which are currently in planning and construction.Books such as, “A Primer to Space” in collaboration with Aita Flury, “The Rauch House” with Martin Rauch edited by Otto Kapfinger and Axel Simon, as well as “Roger Boltshauser – Transformator” with pictures by Philipp Schaerer concerning an exhibition with the same title in the Architektur Galerie Berlin, show amongst other publications since 2007, the work of Roger Boltshauser.In addition to his practice, Roger Boltshauser has engaged in teaching at ETH Zurich and EPFL Lausanne, HTW Chur and the Chur Institute of Architecture CIA between 1996 and 2009. From 2016 to 2017 he was a guest professor at EPFL Lausanne and from 2017 to 2018 at TU Munich. The exhibition “Pisé – Tradition and Potential” created at the EPFL Lausanne was shown, in the exhibition space of Archizoom at EPFL Lausanne, the library at Sitterwerk St. Gallen, the ‘Ziegeleimuseum’ in Cham and the ‘Baumusterzentrale’ in Zurich. In 2018 a publication documenting the research results will be published.

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