Taipa Walls

(Clay mixed with sand grains and pebbles, beated with a sledgehammer, and sometimes compreesed between pillars croossed by narrow strips of wood). It is a millenary construction system that was used in our country until the middle of the century to build houses, mainly in the Alentejo and Algarve regions.

The necessary step to do the "taipa" mass as it should be done, is empirically determined in the region by the old experience of using the material. Choosing the earth as not all earth possesses suffcient natural proprieties.

It is formed by wet earth compressed between removable wooden molds, that are removed after it is completely dried, thus forming a wall of unburnable, naturally isothermal and quite cheap material.

The disadvantages are its vulnerability to the attacks of rodents and lack of stability as far as earthquakes and lateral strain caused by covering weight fluency is concerned. To counter these weaknesses they were frequently reinforced introducing abutments or buttresses. So it was not suitable for the construction of big buildings.

"Taipa" should only be plastered and treated with burned lime plasters or through direct whitewashing so as to be protected against the influence of the atmosphere, especially against water.

As it is easily ruined by water, it could only be made upon normal stone foundations, generally schist about 0,60cm above the ground, from which the wall was built. Thus avvoinding rising humidity.



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