The development of a methodology for creating an earthen building inventory
This thesis addresses the issue of cataloguing traditional earthen architecture. It proposes a methodology that will permit the systematic collection and analysis of objective and quantifiable data relating to historic earthen, or cob, buildings in a parish in mid Devon. The brief given for this project requhes a multi-disciplinary approach to be taken, one that considers the topographical surroundings and the historic context of the buildings as well as the architectural characteristics. A triangular concept is expounded, with the three elements providing a sound basis for the development of an holistic methodology for creating an earthen building inventory. To comply with the requirements of the brief, a comprehensive review of a wide range of relevant literature is described. Historic and current literature on the use of earth as a constructional material is considered, as well as literature on landscape history and historic documentation. The rationale is that a broad based understanding of the key elements will guide the selection of data for inclusion in the proposed inventory database. Data included in existing methodologies, devised for inventorying historic buildings, is assessed, and the necessity to develop a methodology to manage cob buildings is evaluated. The selection of the study area, the parish of Sandford, in which to demonstrate the proposed methodology, and the collection of the descriptive and the spatial data relating to the cob buildings is explained in detail. The use of a relational database, linked to a Geographical Information System, to collate the collected data and the results achieved fi"om analysis is fiilly described and discussed. The potential use of the methodology as a powerfiil conservation tool, indicated by the results of case studies undertaken, is also considered. The conclusions drawn are that the developed methodology represents the first systematic study on cob buildings inDevon, and that the important results achieved, and discoveries made, present a distinct and significant contribution to the current knowledge of cob buildings in mid Devon.