Life-Sized Lego Blocks from Mud

Rammed earth structures make great use of local and sustainable construction materials, but pressing and curing each layer can be tough to do for small-scale contractors or do-it-yourself types.



clay-lego-brick-machineHence, this ingenious portable hydraulic press from MecoConcept, which can pump out finished blocks in thirty seconds right on site. Set on wheels, the brick-making machine can be moved along as needed, requiring only one person to work it at a time.

Styled after LEGOs, each pressed-mud building block is shaped with bumps and grooves on each surface for easy stacking and side-by-side placement. Seismic-resident, stackable up to two stories, these simple bricks pack a lot into a small unit.

The development of the device itself has started in 2008 and production has since then been steadily increasing, the machine is available for rent or sale, and potentially very practical for certain kinds of projects. Of course, in wet and cold climates, adding aggregates and admixtures may be a necessity.

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As with any DIY masonry system, issues of insulation are addressed (or not) by the core material, namely: the dirt, clay or other dug-up mixture one has on hand. However, water barriers and other typical-building concerns may have to be addressed in other ways. Lime is the suggested binder material, as it is completely natural and it stabilizes the moisture in the brick – eliminating swelling, shrinking, or cracking from excessive dryness.

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