Critical review on the material characterization of adobe elements

T. Li Piani*, J. Weerheijm, L. J. Sluys

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

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Adobe is a traditional masonry made of sundried earthen bricks and mud mortar. Despite a millennial history of buildings of architectural value, adobe still connotes a so called ‘not engineered’ construction type. Namely, the material and structural properties of adobe are still not entirely addressed, resulting in an equally uncertain normative framework for adobe buildings design. However, over the last ten years, a large research program has been conducted in the Netherlands to qualify the material and structural properties of this sustainable building technology. In this paper, a critical analysis of the current normative body for the material characterization of adobe is addressed. Guidelines, prescriptions and requirements related to test methods, materials selection and properties contained in the available building codes for adobe around the world are assessed. A critical normative review is performed using the most recent literature produced on adobe, with particular regards to the results of experimental tests and numerical simulations performed by the authors. On the basis of these findings, some issues have been identified in relation to the knowledge currently condensed in the norms for adobe. A series of programmatic guidelines is aimed at orienting future research on adobe as well as fostering the process of updating its current normative body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)203-226
Number of pages24
JournalJournal of Green Building
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2022

Bibliographical note

Green Open Access added to TU Delft Institutional Repository 'You share, we take care!' - Taverne project
Otherwise as indicated in the copyright section: the publisher is the copyright holder of this work and the author uses the Dutch legislation to make this work public.


  • adobe
  • characterization
  • material
  • properties and procedures
  • standardization


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