Rammed Earth is a sustainable natural material composed of earth, lime, gravel and chalk. This eco-material making its comeback in the construction industry is durable, energy efficient and beautiful. Take a look at some ways the aesthetics of rammed earth are being explored.
Project: Casa Candelaria
Architects: Cheram Arquitectos
Location: Mexico City
Project: Nk'Mip Desert Cultural Centre
Architect: Hotson Bakker Boniface Haden architects + urbanistes
Location: Osoyoos, Canada
The award-winning cultural centre is located in the unique Canadian desert in Osoyoos, British Columbia - designed to exhibit the desert and culture of the Okanagan people. The potential of architecture to convey the rich past of the people is expressed through the sensitive siting of the building in the landscape, and the use of expressive, warm, and rich materials such as the rammed earth.
The center is part of the land of the Osoyoos Indian Band, with the fragile surrounding landscape guiding the sustainable design of the center. The center features the longest rammed earth wall in North America, standing at 80m long, 5.5m high, and 600mm thick. It is made from local soils with concrete and color additives, and its thermal mass is able to sustain thermal warmth and comfort in the cold winters, while providing a cool interior in the summer months.
Project: Tuscon Mountain Retreat
Location: Tuscon, Arizona
The Tuscon Mountain Retreat is a beautiful home in the Sonoran Desert that uses rammed earth composed of the local soil beautifully as a building material. The minimal impact construction and the passive solar design of this home makes it an extremely eco-friendly home. Strategies to create a connection between the inside and outside include concrete stepping stones, floor to ceiling glass windows, and lack of internal hallways. Operable sliding walls allow for breezes through the house in the hot daytime, while the rammed earth provides thermal mass that slows the transfer of heat, keeping the house warm in the cool desert evenings.
The Windhover Contemplative Center is a spiritual retreat located on the Stanford campus. It is designed to promote spiritual well-being of campus students, faculty, and visitors. The center is a place where architecture, landscape, and art come together within and around the thick rammed earth walls. Natural light lights the space in the daytime, and seating in the form of benches is scattered throughout the space, where one can sit back and admire art hanging on the calming and warm rammed earth walls, or take in the beautifully designed landscape.
Project: Gateway to the McDowell Sonoran Preserve
Architect: Weddle Gilmore Black Rock Studio
Location: Scottsdale, Arizona
The Gateway was designed as an entry and passage into the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, while minimizing the impact on the native Sonoran Desert environment. Rammed earth was used to construct the building walls, in essence utilizing only native earth materials that allow the building to blend into the landscape. It recalls the tradition of indigenous desert building, while adhering to modern sustainable performance requirements.
The roof of the building utilizes native desert rock cobbles, allowing the building to disappear into the landscape when viewed from afar. Other sustainable strategies include using more than 20% recycled materials for the building, a net-zero energy consumption due to the solar panels installed on the roof, and harvested rainwater and storage for meeting all landscape irrigation needs.
Project: Rick Torcasso's Residence
Architect: Larry Speck
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico