The LEHM 2012 – an important opportunity for exchanging opinions on earth building in Europe and the world


The LEHM 2012 is the 6th international conference on building with earth that the Dachverband Lehm e.V., the German Association for Building with Earth, has organized. Each event is unique and important in its own way, providing a platform for exchanging experience and for improving awareness of earth building in society. Nearly 200 participants from 25 countries and 5 continents attended the conference from 5 - 7 October 2012 which took place in Weimar, the home of German Classicism, birthplace of the Bauhaus and a UNESCO World Heritage site. The conference was held in the “Kulturzentrum mon ami” in the heart of Weimar’s historical town centre.

Conference venue: Kulturzentrum on ami Weimar (Photos: M. Fahnert among others)

LEHM 2012 Conference

The lectures and posters by our illustrious speakers took us from Austria, Spain, Portugal, Saudi Arabia and Turkey by way of France, Africa, Abu Dhabi, England, India and Bulgaria to Japan, Canada, the Czech Republic, Iran and the USA. And that's without even mentioning what's happening in the different regions of Germany. The six main areas of focus were:

  1. Earth building norms and regulations
  2. Current earth building research
  3. Earth building education
  4. Sustainable earth building
  5. New earth building projects
  6. Earth building in conservation

The conference started with a morning featuring new earth building projects around the world, before branching out into more specialised areas in the afternoon sessions. In the main auditorium, the speakers and participants discussed norms and research, covering a diverse range of topics, while in the next door room the workshops focussed on earth building and sustainability, and earth building education.

Speakers at the conference

An important and by no means secondary aspect was the breaks between the sessions, not just as an opportunity for informal discussions. The venue's in-house catering provided admirably for the well-being of the guests between the sessions.

Evening reception – 20 years of the Dachverband Lehm e.V.

In the evening, on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the founding of the Dachverband Lehm e.V., the association held an evening reception in the Palais Schardt and Goethe Pavilion in which Charlotte von Stein spent her childhood and first met Goethe. Aside from the banqueting rooms, the ensemble of buildings dates from the Renaissance to the Jugendstil period, and has a fragrant flower garden and summer salon.

An opening speech and a review of the history of the Dachverband Lehm e.V. – from its roots in the AG Lehm in the mid-1980s, the “dizzy heights” of the pioneering days to the “arduous lowlands” and the achievements that followed – marked a fitting prelude to the evening. The banquet could then begin, accompanied by a pianist, and the discussions that ensued in the larger and smaller rooms of the Palais continued until deep into the night.

Evening reception in the Palais Schardt (Photos: Christof Ziegert, Rainer Hettenbach)


The conference continued the next morning with further presentation on current research in earth building, followed by interesting and outstanding examples from the issues associated with the renovation of earth buildings around the world.

The exchange with colleagues and guests from all corners of the world is stimulating and enriching. Over the last 20 years since 1992, the DVL has achieved much and prepared the path for many initiatives in the fields of education, norms and regulations and in the practice of earth building and the manufacture of earth building products, not just in our own country. In the meantime new earth building associations have been founded in other European and international countries. A new experience for us, was the spontaneous request for a space for prayers by two moslem participants on Friday evening. This too we were able to cater for.

As in the previous conferences in 2004 and 2008, the lectures and posters of the LEHM 2012 are contained in a book of the conference proceedings in English and German. This is available separately and can be obtained from the DVL for 60.00 € (plus postage outside of Germany).

On Saturday afternoon, the members of the DVL held their Annual General Meeting. The work of the past year was presented and discussed and a new board was elected to serve for the coming years.

DLV Annual General Meeting (Photos: M. Fahnert)

Field trips on Sunday

On Sunday, the DVL offered two different trips. The first - “Trip A: Earth building in Thuringia in the past and present” - was a bus trip, visiting sites in the surrounding area of Central Thuringia; the second was “Trip B – Classicism and Earth Building” which toured earth building projects in Weimar.

Trip A "Earth building in Thuringia in the past and present"
(Photos: Hannah Schreckenbach, Lars Palmgren)

For many visitors, Weimar was also an attractive and charming backdrop to the event. Weimar is an internationally known and well-loved location for conferences and is steeped in history from the Age of Classicism to the Bauhaus and beyond. That Weimar also has a darker side to its history should also be remembered: some visitors took the opportunity to visit the memorial and site of the former concentration camp at Buchenwald just outside Weimar.

Trip B “Classicism and Earth Building” (Photos: Rainer Hettenbach, Stephan Jörchel)

Looking ahead: the LEHM 2016

The next LEHM event is scheduled for 2016 and we are confident that it will build on the successful series of conferences from 2004 – 2012. We look forward to seeing you then!

Stephan Jörchel, 19 October 2012

Der Dachverband Lehm e.V. wishes to thank all who attended the LEHM 2012 - speakers and participants alike – for making the conference such a success!

Further information

An errata sheet for the conference proceedings can be downloaded here and a list of participants is available on request.