You can still see adobe ruins scattered across the southwest. Even though the roofs have long since rotted away, the walls are still standing after decades or even 100 years or more of neglect. Clearly, adobe is pretty tough stuff, in part because clay platelets closely align themselves and bond together.
It’s fairly straightforward to obtain engineered plans and code approval for adobe buildings, if you can afford it, since this type of construction has been thoroughly tested, and because adobe construction is so widespread.
Earthbag building currently lacks the same degree of testing and ease of code approval, yet I’m convinced, certain as one can be, that earthbag is stronger than adobe. For one, the soil is tamped, not just poured. This helps create a denser, stronger rammed wall that history has shown can last for hundreds or thousands of years. Plus, there’s the added strength of poly bags and barbed wire, which add significant tensile strength. The barbs are embedded in the densely packed soil between each course, as well as hooked on the bags themselves. In addition, if builders follow our recommendations about size and spacing of openings, plaster, bond beams, etc. then earthbag buildings will be extremely strong – far stronger, in my opinion, than the mass produced housing being built today.