Visiting scholar, Dr. Steve Burroughs, from the University of Canberra, Australia, will discuss the history and methods of rammed earth construction. Dr. Burroughs will also discuss the important research on this form of sustainable architecture made by Dr. Ralph Patty at SDSU during the 1920s and 1930s.
Rammed earth construction is an ancient form of architecture used all over the world. It is both sustainable and thermodynamic, and unlike adobe, can be used in humid climates. Dr. Patty was the first in the US to approach this building technique with scientific research methods. He tested soil compositions, construction techniques, and skin treatments. His research is the basis for modern rammed earth construction techniques. For more information about Rammed Earth construction at SDSU, click here.
About Dr. Steve Burroughs
During a career spanning more than 50 years, Dr Steve Burroughs has protected and enhanced the Corporate and Indigenous communities in which he has lived and worked by placing sustainability at the core of building design and construction. During this time, he has been at the forefront of community engagement, working partnerships, and research and education in the sustainable building sector. Aspects of sustainability of the built environment of interest to Dr Burroughs include the environmental design and performance of buildings, construction material technology, and ethnoscientific approaches to sustainability. His expertise has been applied to various projects both overseas (particularly in Africa) and in Australia.
In Australia, Dr Burroughs’ work has focused on delivering environmentally sustainable buildings which meet the cultural and social needs of Indigenous people. This work has included overseeing (in 2010) the design and construction of the first environmentally efficient homes under the Homes on Indigenous Lands (HOIL) programme (in Nguiu, NT). The houses were designed and constructed using an innovative procurement model in which the community was extensively engaged in the design process. This project exemplifies Dr Burroughs’ ability to develop meaningful partnerships with various stakeholders including aboriginal communities, government agencies, corporations and non-government organisations. With his network of professional colleagues, and as Principal of his consultancy firm Dr Steve Burroughs & Associates and as CEO of Dr Steve Burroughs Foundation, collaboration with these groups and the investment of expertise have produced inventive built environment design solutions that promote the wellbeing of people.
Dr Burroughs has active research interests in the sustainable built environment. Since completing his PhD he has published a series of peer-reviewed papers in international academic journals. The results of his research have been applied to his design and construction of low-energy buildings. Importantly, because of the way the research was formulated, the results have enabled Global communities as well as Indigenous communities to easily learn and practically apply the material preparation and construction techniques to their own building projects.
As a result of his expertise and experience in sustainable building technologies, Dr Burroughs has been recognised by the University of Canberra where he holds the position of Adjunct professor (Architecture) March 2011-Present. There, he provides a creative and professionally oriented forum to encourage dialogue and collaboration among students, faculties, and the public and private sectors. He also provides research projects and supports students to achieve their academic and professional goals. Most recently Dr Burroughs has been appointed to the Global Network Sustainable Housing organisation under the United Nations Habitat programme. Dr Burroughs also serves as a board member on the international initiative for a Sustainable Built Environment organisation (iiSBE). The iiSBE organisation hosted 20 conferences around the world in 2016 one of which was the Sydney High Performance SB conference. Dr Burroughs served on the organising committee as well as serving on scientific committees around the world for the SBE16 series. Presently Dr Burroughs is serving on the Advanced Building Skins Committee, scheduled in Bern Switzerland in October, 2017.
Working with various government agencies, corporations and other NGO partners, Dr Burroughs continues to be involved at the forefront of research through his sustainable building design, construction methods, and technologies. A current research project epitomises his ethnoscientific approach to sustainable building design. The project involves research using smart development thinking beyond NABERS and Green Star in the performance of commercial/residential building in Brisbane, with a view to improving the economic, cultural, social, political and environmental resilience in the area. The result is buildings presented as an innovative sustainable-resilient design, encapsulating the essence of the ARMS (Australian Resilience Measuring Scheme) tool rated on a star system. In addition to the engineering responsive elements of the building, it incorporates design/construction elements and operational performance consistent with recognised modern standards. The sustainability resilience relationship through the ARMS tool is about sustainability being the impact of the building on the environment but resilience being about the impact of the environment on the building. Sustainability is about maximising efficiency of the system (reducing impact on the environment) but resilience is about balancing efficiency with redundancy (so that it can withstand impacts from the social, political, cultural, economic and environmental issues). The ARMS tool represents a ground-breaking fusion of smart engineering and modern materials/methods in an ethnoscientific approach to design and, means that the buildings will possess human sustainability, resilience and environmental integrity.
In summary, for four decades, Dr Steve Burroughs has demonstrated leadership and innovative approaches in the advancement of the built environment. He has worked at the intersection of environmental-based design, low-energy construction materials, alternative construction methods, and Indigenous knowledge and values. In doing so, he has not only contributed to the progression of environmental sustainability but has also enhanced the lives of those with whom he has engaged.