Our forbearers used what was on hand to build their homes and shelters, and striving for a more sustainable world inevitably means that we have to get back to those basics. A great example of doing just that is the so-called Casa Candaleria, which was designed by Cherem Arquitectos. It is located near San Miguel de Allende, Mexico and was built using primarily the earth on which it stands.
The home is perhaps not the most attractive or unique example of modern architecture, but it is very functional and sustainable. It was built using rammed earth, which gives it a unique color. They also used wood, concrete tile, stone, and glass in the construction.
Using the soil they found on-site in the construction process greatly offset a large part of the home’s carbon footprint, while also substantially reducing costs. Building out of rammed earth is a very old technique, which involves compressing damp earth into a mold then letting it dry. This material is not as strong as concrete, but it still works very well in home construction, though it is also a lot more time intensive.
Rammed earth has the added benefit of having very good thermal mass, which offers a high level of insulation. It actually naturally cools the home during the day, and heats it during the night. In a climate such as the one in Mexico, no other insulation was needed.
The home features ample glazing in the living area, which is separated from the other living quarters by a covered outdoor hallway, which extends into a wooden deck that looks great for lounging on. The rest of the home doesn’t have many windows, likely to prevent solar heat gain, though the ones that they did install are large floor-to-ceiling ones. Judging from the photos these feature wooden shutters, which are likely very effective at keeping the home cool.