The potential and current status of earthen material for low-cost housing in rural India

Yask Kulshreshtha*, Nelson J.A. Mota, Kaup S. Jagadish, Jan Bredenoord, Philip J. Vardon, Mark C.M. van Loosdrecht, Henk M. Jonkers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

54 Citations (Scopus)
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There is an enormous demand for rural housing in India that needs to be catered for within a short span of time. Building with earth (mud) is proposed as an economical and environmental friendly alternative due to the rising costs of conventional building materials. However, the construction of earthen houses has significantly declined in India and thus it is necessary to evaluate if they can make a valuable contribution to contemporary housing shortage. Therefore, an informal survey was conducted in India to understand factors favouring or limiting the construction and daily use of earthen houses. The outcome of the survey suggests that ‘Image’ is the key barrier against a wide acceptance of traditional earthen houses which are linked to poverty. While modern earthen construction is desired, it is expensive for low-income households. The role of earth in addressing the contemporary housing shortage is analysed and suggestions are given for the implementation of modern earthen technologies for low-cost affordable rural housing. Initiatives by middle-high income households, entrepreneurs and government can trigger a widespread interest in earthen construction. Successful demonstration of durable earthen structures at diverse locations and contexts can act as catalysts for change of the image of earth and make it a desirable material for low-cost housing in rural India.

Original languageEnglish
Article number118615
Pages (from-to)1-14
Number of pages14
JournalConstruction and Building Materials
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • Earthen construction
  • Image
  • Low-cost housing
  • Rural India


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