No, I’m not talking about the simple, bare bones homes of workers in ages past. The Australian firm Luigi Rosselli Architects have adopted this sustainable and energy efficient building material and practice to construct a residence for seasonal workers at a cattle ranch.
The workers’ residence takes the basic shape of a rammed earth wall, which forms a zigzagging line that is 754 feet long. Some have even dubbed it “The Great Wall of Western Australia,” due to its impressive length. The wall acts as a façade that faces an embankment of sand, under which twelve small but functional residences are located.
The residence is built using locally sourced sandy clay, which is rich in iron. The facade is 17.7 inches thick, which together with the roof, also made of earth, works great at reducing solar heat gain and keeping the interior of the units cool in a natural way. Each of the residences has its own private deck, while there is also a shared garden.
For binder in the wall, they used gravel from a river flowing nearby, and water from the well on the premises. The wall was rammed by hand, which gives it a beautiful and layered look. The residence rests on a poured concrete slab. To give it the same color as the wall, they added the same gravel and aggregates from the river to the concrete mixture.
It’s nice to see this sustainable and eco-friendly material making a comeback. Also, if naturally cooled structures can function in a climate such as that of West Australia, then they can easily do so elsewhere as well. It is also a great example of just how well traditional building techniques, are still relevant and can easily be adapted to modern purposes.
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