CINVA – Impact in Technology

The CINVA project improved rural and urban development, but it was also a hub of technological development and innovation. In Colombia, soil-cement block machines were difficult to move to rural areas as well as being very heavy and expensive.

In 1952 in Bogota, Colombia, Raul Ramirez, an engineer from Chile who was working in the CINVA project, created a one-man operated, lightweight machine that could produce up to 300 cement blocks per day at a very low labor cost (The Economic Characteristics and Origins of Building Innovations in Developing Countries). The machine created the soil-cement blocks from premade molds, which meant that if a mold changed a different soil-cement part could be made. Thus, the Chilean engineer had created a multi-use soil-cement building machine that served for floors, roofs, and other parts of the house.

In Colombia, the blocks were created using a material called suelo-crete, which is a mixture of fine dirt and concrete. Suelo-crete closely resembles traditional adobe however, it is cheaper and more reliable (Mooney, Eric). All these blocks are now known as compressed earth blocks or CEB, and is a common technique used for building (Mother Earth News). This block making technique positively impacted the CINVA housing project and was later used globally for housing projects.

The CINVA-RAM Manual
CINVA-RAM in the CINVA Experimental Construction Lab, Bogotá. Photo: Leonard J. Currie, 1960.

Caicedo, Hernando and Hernando Rubiano. “El Terraconcreto en Colombia: Apuntes para su historia.” DEARQ : Journal of Architecture, November 2007. DOI:10.18389/dearq1.2007.14. Accessed 12 January 2022.