Auvergne Pisé Houses (Bourbonnais area)

Auvergne is one of the regions of France known for having Pisé houses. Pisé is refered to as rammed earth or cobwork in English. Essentially it is a mix of local earth and water.

Cobwork / Pisé houses have rammed earth shaped between two parallel wooden frames called forms. This building technique produces a lovely authentic look that is typical of the Pisé houses in Auvergne.

Pisé is a natural, “living” material that breathes, allowing air to pass permeate the walls. It is one of the most natural and green building materials. Its colour can change slightly according to local earth and its exposure to the sun.

Rammed earth construction reflects the natural colours of the Auvergne region and as a building product it is carbon efficient compared to modern products constructed using industrial scale productions.

Pisé houses in the Auvergne region can foremost be found in the Bourbonnais area where many traditional houses were built with this material.

Many houses in the Massif Central area of Auvergne are partially built in Pisé, corresponding to the ancient functions of the house. Typically the farm buildings were made of Pisé and the habitable areas were made of stone.

The Livradois aera of Auvergne also accounts for many Pisé houses. As in the Massif Central areas, houses here are often partially constructed of Pisé. A house with the habitable areas made of stone instead of Pisé was originally a sign of wealth and power.

This technique can produce walls that differ as the finish depends on the amount of water used during the preparation. The holes that can be seen in the wall are normal as the wall "breathes".

Auvergne is a French region where many different house types can be found. Go to the next page of our dossier to learn more.

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